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Russia Shoots Its Way Into Gold Game

By David Ginsburg
Associated Press
Friday, February 20, 1998; 8:02 a.m. EST



 Russia earned a return to the gold-medal game Friday thanks to the play of Pavel Bure (left). (Reuters)
NAGANO, Japan — Pavel Bure made sure at least one thing in this Olympic hockey tournament has a familiar ring to it: Russia playing in the gold-medal game.

Bure scored five goals today to lead the unbeaten Russians past Finland, 7-4, and into the championship against the Czech Republic.

In a tournament that featured NHL players for the first time, Russia's stellar play brought a bit of nostalgia to the scene. The Soviet Union won seven of eight gold medals from 1964 to 1992. After a fourth-place finish at Lillehammer, Russia once again is in position to take home the gold.

The Russians will next play a Czech team that upset Canada 2-1 today in a shootout.

This game was a shootout, too, but it had nothing to do with overtime.

Finland's Jarmo Myllys and Russian goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov, who won't be mistaken for Dominik Hasek and Patrick Roy, couldn't contend with Bure and NHL-leading scorer Teemu Selanne.

Bure staked Russia to a 3-0 lead, but the Finns rallied behind Selanne, who finished with a goal and an assist.

It was 4-4 before Russia's Sergei Fedorov won a faceoff in the Finland zone. The puck hit the skate of Andrei Kovalenko, who tipped it with his stick past Myllys with 13:28 remaining.

Bure, a star with the Vancouver Canucks who wasn't even born when the Soviet Union began its dynasty, scored an insurance goal with 4:02 left and added an empty-netter with five seconds to go.

Bure gave Russia a 1-0 lead at 9:51 of the first period with an exceptional bit of persistence. After Myllys blocked Bure's initial shot from the right side of the net, the right wing weaved closer and bounced another shot off the goaltender before scoring on his third try.

Bure's next two goals came on breakaways against Myllys, a 32-year-old who went 4-27-1 before being bounced from the NHL in 1992. Bure scored after accepting a lead pass from Dmitri Mironov at 17:28 and completed his hat trick with 59 seconds gone in the second period.

Finland then battled back, getting goals from Raimo Helminen and Kimmo Rintanen to close to 3-2 at 4:59 of the period. The Finns tied it at 14:07 when Selanne scored from the left side of the crease with two Russians in the penalty box.

Russia regained the lead at 17:26 when Alexei Zhamnov jammed in the rebound of a shot by Alexei Zhitnik, but Saku Koivu made it 4-4 early in the third period, scoring from the left circle after Shtalenkov failed to control a soft shot by Selanne.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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