USA Dethrones Defending Champ Russia at Ice Hockey Worlds

The United States stunned reigning champions Russia 8-3 at the Helsinki Hartwall arena on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the world ice hockey championships.

US skipper Paul Stastny produced two goals and two assists, while Craig Smith pitched in with five assists to gain sweet revenge for a 5-3 defeat to Russia in the preliminary round.

The Americans' 19-year-old goalie John Gibson, meanwhile, made 31 saves as the US registered their highest ever score against Russia.

"It's where we wanted to be coming into this tournament. We took care of what we had to do today and we got some bounces our way, which is always nice," said New Jersey Devils left wing Stephen Gionta.

"I thought we played a pretty solid team game today. We tried to clog up everything, take away their speed and keep the puck in their end. I think our game plan worked well."

Russia, who boosted their attacking line with Washington Capitals left winger Alexander Ovechkin, started in lively fashion, pinning their rivals back but the Americans defended stoutly and replied on the counter-attack.

Stastny put the US 1-0 up 11:53 into the match, sending the puck into the back of the net from just outside the crease on a Craig Smith pass from behind the goal line.

St Louis Blues center TJ Oshie added his goal just 50 seconds later beating Russian goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a precise wrist shot from the right face-off circle.

Alexander Svitov reduced the arrears with 4:30 left before the first intermission but Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson restored the US team's two-goal lead 5:45 into the second period, beating Bryzgalov between the pads from Ryan Carter's cross.

Montreal Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk made it 4-1 for the US at 37:31 forcing Russian manager Zinetulla Bilyaletdinov to substitute Bryzgalov for Colorado Avalanche keeper Semyon Varlamov.

Ovechkin scored Russia's second goal with a close-range wrist shot 1:33 into the third period but Carter replied with a shorthanded goal on a breakaway at 42:55, making it 5-2 for the United States.

Alexander Perezhogin netted Russia's third on a powerplay but Jacob Trouba and David Moss added one apiece, while Stastny rounded off the scoring with his second of the match with 9.59 to go.

"The team that was more disciplined and better organised won today. We have very good players but you have to remember that hockey is a team game," Bilyaletdinov said.

In the semis the United States will face the winner of the match between Switzerland and Czech Republic.

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