CALGARY, FEB. 24 -- The Soviet Union's Olympic hockey team tonight took care of North America's Team entirely differently than it took care of America's Team a week ago, but the result was the same.

The Soviets defeated Canada, 5-0, in front of an estimated 19,000 at the Saddledome and stayed on course for the gold medal they could very well win Sunday on the final day of the XV Winter Olympics.

The U.S.S.R., which defeated the United States, 7-5, last Wednesday, broke a scoreless tie with two goals in the second period and three in the third period. The Soviets' superlative defensive play frustrated an equally defensive-minded Canadian team that had no more than a handful of good scoring opportunities.

The Soviets, now 6-0 in the Olympics and on top of the medal round standings with six points, have clinched at least a bronze medal. They play Sweden (four points) Friday and Finland (five points) Sunday. Both teams still can upset the U.S.S.R. and win the gold, if they win their other game.

The last two times Canada and the Soviet Union played, Canada won, 3-2. They met in December in the Soviets' Izvestia tournament and just two weeks ago in Saskatchewan.

Because of this, the Canadians opened the Olympics with sky-high hopes, but lost to Finland and tied Sweden before their first game in the medal round tonight.

Soviet goaltender Sergei Mylnikov stopped 17 Canadian shots to earn the shutout. It was the third consecutive time the Canadians had been shut out in medal-round play, dating back to the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo.

There were serious questions surrounding the Soviet team as it came here. It lost the Izvestia tournament, the world championships and the Canada Cup in the past year. Many wondered if it could defend its gold medal won at Sarajevo and win its seventh gold in nine Winter Olympics.

The way the Soviets played tonight against an old nemesis, the answer clearly is yes.

"Tonight, we changed the play from attack to defense," said Soviet assistant coach Igor Dmitriev. "The last two times we played them, we were not as successful at turning from the attack into defense and we paid the price for it."

With two goals in less than seven minutes early in the second period, the Soviet Union took command. Sergei Yashin simply skated behind the net, wrapped the puck around the Canadian goal and tucked it between goaltender Sean Burke and the goal post with just 45 seconds gone in the period.

A tense, even beginning had given way to a quick, shocking Soviet advantage.

Then, with Canadian Ken Yaremchuk off on a penalty for high sticking, the U.S.S.R. scored its second goal.

The Soviet power play worked to perfection as Ilia Biakin passed to Andrei Khomutov, who then flicked the puck to Viacheslav Bykov in front of the net. Bykov lifted the puck past Burke's right shoulder and into the back of the net with 7:22 gone in the period.

Canada had two power-play opportunities later in the period but never mounted a serious threat. The second power play ran over for 1:37 into the third period. The Canadians never got a shot on goal.

The U.S.S.R. took that 2-0 lead into the final period, then easily scored three more times as the game got out of hand.

With 12 minutes to play in the game, Alexandre Mogilny stuffed the puck inside the left goal post off a pass from Andrei Lomakin to give the Soviets a 3-0 lead. With 3:23 left to play, Vladimir Krutov scored his tournament-leading 13th point for a 4-0 lead, and Sergei Makarov added the final goal on a backhand shot with 1:44 to play.

The scoreless first period was the game's best. Canada Coach Dave King wished he could have bottled it and used it later.

"We'd take the first period and use it for all three and capitalize on any chances we got," he said.

Both teams had scoring opportunities in the first period. The Soviets had two power plays in the first eight minutes but managed only one shot on goal each time.

For many minutes, the teams played an even, defensive game, which suits Canada just fine. This is a team that scored only 17 goals in its first five Olympic games.

With just less than six minutes remaining in the first period, Canada had its only strong scoring opportunity of the period -- and just about its best of the game.

Jim Peplinski, who plays for the Calgary Flames, kicked the puck away from a Soviet defender and ahead to himself near the red line. He then skated over the blue line and passed to Steve Tambellini of the Vancouver Canucks on his left. Tambellini closed in on Mylnikov, but shot wide.

Sweden 6, Czechoslovakia 2:

Sweden greatly improved its chances for a medal and eliminated Czechoslovakia from gold medal contention by defeating the 1984 silver medalist.

Sweden's Peter Lindmark made 22 saves and forced future NHL player Jiri Hrdina to miss on a penalty shot, as Sweden doubled its medal-round point standings to four.

Sweden, the tournament's top seed, reigning world champion and 1984 bronze medalist, carried two points into the round. Its next opponent is the Soviet Union.

Czechoslovakia is the only medal-round participant with no points.

Trailing, 1-0, on Vladimir Ruzicka's first-period goal, the Swedes turned the game around in the second period by scoring three goals in a 3:07 span and getting Lindmark's big save on the penalty shot.

Jonas Bergqvist tied it when he faked Czech defenseman Miloslav Horava to the ice and beat goalie Dominik Hasek.

Hasek, in a surprise start for Jaromir Sindel, was beaten on the goal that gave Sweden a 2-1 lead. He allowed Peter Andersson's soft shot to bounce off his chest, over his shoulder and into the net.

Hasek had been the national goalie until he was injured just before the Olympics; Sindel allowed only nine goals in the 1984 Games.

Ulf Sandstrom made it 3-1 on a good goal-mouth feed by Mikael Johansson.

With 9:50 left in the second period, Hrdina was awarded a penalty shot by Soviet referee Nicolaj Morozov because Swedish defenseman Thomas Eriksson slid his stick at the future Calgary Flame. On the penalty shot, Lindmark sprawled across the goal line, forcing Hrdina to shoot over the net.

Czechoslovakia then failed to capitalize on two power plays, including a two-man advantage near the end of the period.

Finland 8, West Germany 0:

Kari Laitinen had two goals and two assists and Finland moved into the thick of the gold medal race with the victory.

Finland has four victories and a tie since losing its opener to Switzerland and now has five points after bringing three into the six-team medal round.

West Germany fell to 1-2 against medal-round participants.

Jarmo Myllys, who has been brilliant in allowing only six goals during Finland's five-game streak, made 26 saves Wednesday, including three sensational early stops that set the tone for the game.

Laitinen entered the game with just one goal and no assists.

The West Germans, who had used defensive hustle and Karl Friesen's solid goaltending to go 4-1 in the preliminary round, made countless mistakes in those areas against Finland. Friesen had yielded only three goals coming into the medal round.

Finland took a 1-0 lead at 12:34 of the first period, when West Germany's top defensive combination -- Udo Kiessling and Andreas Niederberger -- gave the puck away to Esa Keskinen for an easy goal.

Reijo Ruotsalainen's third goal in two games made it 3-0 after one period.

More West German errors allowed Finland to take a 6-0 lead after two.

Dieter Medicus lost a pass to Laitinen, who broke in alone on Friesen. Friesen left too large a gap between his pads and was beaten by Timo Susi's shot for a 5-0 lead.