Toronto (Canada) (AFP) - Russia beat Finland 3-0 to book a World Cup of Hockey semi-final clash with Canada and extinguish Team North America's hopes of advancing.
Vladimir Tarasenko and Ivan Telegin scored within two minutes of each other in the second period and Evgeni Malkin added a goal in the third period for Russia, who had 21 saves from goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Finland goalie Tuukka Rask made 19 saves but took his second defeat. Finland has one of the best medal haul records in the Olympics and World Championships of any country but they failed to win a game in the World Cup and scored just one goal in nine periods.
Russia had to beat the already eliminated Finns in order to advance as the second-place team in Group B.
Team North America, the exciting squad of 23 and under players from the United States and Canada, had the same four points as Russia but the Russians advanced by virtue of their 4-3 win over the North Americans on Monday.
After Russia and Canada clash on Saturday, Group B winners Sweden will play Team Europe in the other semi-final on Sunday.
The USA's woes continued Thursday as the Czech Republic broke open a 2-2 tie in the second with goals just 39 seconds apart to win the final preliminary round game 4-3.
"None of us with the US team from head to toe is happy with what's happened here," said coach John Tortorella. "We just didn't find a way to win.
- 'Can't be happy' -
"The bottom line is we leave here with nothing, and so certainly we can't be happy about that. "
With plenty at stake Russia started conservatively against Finland, but scored 3:42 into the second period when Tarasenko took a clever pass from Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and slotted a shot past Rask, who couldn't get across the crease in time.
Tarasenko's goal came one minute after Finland were denied a goal by the post behind Bobrovsky after Mikael Granlund put a one-timer past him.
Telegin made it 2-0 at 5:01 when he took a pass from Vadim Shipachev, cut across the goal mouth and slid a shot in before Rask could get to the far post.
Shipachev was in the lineup in the place of Pavel Datsyuk, the top-line center, who was scratched with an injury sustained in practice on Wednesday.
Malkin made it 3-0 at 3:39 of the third period, faking a pass during a 2-on-1 and then snapping a wrist shot to the short side.
Tarasenko said once again they will be ready for the Canadians on the international stage on Saturday.
"I think this is one of the greatest rivalries ever: Canada against Russia," Tarasenko said.
"We know how they play. They have a really good team, good players, (the) best players in the world so we need to be good in a couple days."
In the late game, Andrej Sustr and Milan Michalek, with his second goal of the game, scored back-to-back goals late in the second period to give the Czechs a 4-2 lead.
Ryan McDonagh pulled the USA to within 4-3 with a shorthanded goal at 2:22 of the third. The Americans applied plenty of offensive pressure in the third, but could not tie the game.