Russia Back on Top of Hockey Worlds

APThe Russian team posing for a photo Sunday after defeating Canada 5-4 in overtime to win the gold medal at the World Hockey Championship in Quebec City.
QUEBEC CITY -- Russia rallied to its first world championship gold medal since 1993, when Ilya Kovalchuk's overtime power-play goal gave it a 5-4 win over defending champion Canada on Sunday.

Kovalchuk broke free when it mattered to send the contest into overtime with his first goal of the tournament late in the third period and then notched the winner 2:42 into overtime.

The goal stunned the capacity crowd at the Quebec Colisee, watching in disbelief as the Russian team poured off the bench to mob Kovalchuk.

"During the whole tournament, it doesn't matter who scores, it's all a team effort," Kovalchuk told reporters. "Everyone was asking when I would score."

The victory capped an unbeaten run through the tournament for Russia, and the title was made all the sweeter as it came against its fiercest rival, who was hosting the championships for the first time.

The loss was the first by Canada in 18 world championship games, denying it its bid to become the first host to capture the title since the Soviet Union in 1986.

Strangely, given their long and storied history, it was the first time since the knockout formula was introduced into the world championship in 1992 that the two hockey superpowers had met in a winner-takes-all gold medal game.

Not since the 1992 Albertville Olympics had Canada and Russia faced off in a title game.

The opening period was played at a furious pace, the Russians scoring on their first shot of the game, Alexander Semin rifling a feed from Washington Capitals teammate Ovechkin by Cam Ward.

But Canada settled frayed nerves, hitting back for three goals, including a pair from Brent Burns and another from Chris Kunitz to take a 3-1 lead into the second.

Burns' first goal, a rocket from just inside the blueline, was the first surrendered by Russian goalie Yevgeny Nabokov in 134 minutes of play after posting back-to-back shutouts in the quarter-finals and semifinals.

In the second period, Russia again struck for another early goal, Semin converting a power-play for his second of the game.

The host quickly canceled that out, tournament MVP Dany Heatley providing relief with his 12th of the tournament, setting the Canadian modern day record for the most goals at a single world championship to restore a 4-2 cushion heading into the final period.