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MINSK, Belarus -- Finland blanked the Czech Republic 3-0 in the semifinals of the ice hockey world championship on Saturday to set up a final against Russia. Earlier Saturday, Russia beat defending champion Sweden 3-1 in a matchup of the last two title holders to advance to the title game. Finlands Jori Lehtera netted a backhand in the first period before Jarkko Immonen scored on a power play in the second and Lehtera added his second into the empty net in the third. Goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 20 shots for the shutout. Finland struggled in the group stage, losing three games, and needed a help from Switzerland to advance before eliminated Canada in the quarter-finals. "We had a tough time in the group stage and almost every game was a must win for. Now, weve been able to enjoy the game, nothing to lose" Rinne said. "As a team weve come together and its been great fun. Im really excited about this opportunity." Russia meanwhile, has won all nine of its games at the tournament, and is now one win away from its second title in three years and has a chance to avenge a disappointing loss to Finland in the quarter-finals in the Sochi Olympics. Finland last won the worlds in 2011. "Our team has a character," Russia coach Oleg Znarok said. Showing off its attacking power, Russia rebounded from an opening goal by Oscar Moller just 19 seconds into the game as Sergei Plotnikov and Sergei Shirokov both scored later in the first period. Defenceman Anton Belov drove a slap shot into the net on a rebound to make it 3-1 in the second in front of roaring Russian fans. Russia outshot Sweden 34-23, while goaltender Sergei Bobrovski made big saves to deny Moller and Joakim Lindstrom in the middle period. Danis Zaripov and defenceman Evgeni Medvedev had two assists each and star forward Alex Ovechkin got one assist in his second straight game after recovering from a right leg injury. "I had a new knee brace and felt much better," Ovechkin said. "I cant say I am 100 per cent fit but the situation is that one must be ready for anything. We have one game left and we must do everything to make sure we win." Plotnikov scored from the right circle on a rebound after 13:25 and Shirokov wristed a shot past goaltender Anders Nilsson to put Russia 2-1 ahead with two minutes left in the period. "I dont think we came up to our best level," Nilsson said. "I think they were better than us today, they had more chances and we didnt create enough chances to win." Sweden pulled Nilsson with more than two minutes to play in the third and their advantage increased to six-on-four when Denis Denisov was penalized for interference with 1:40 remaining. But all Swedish hopes ended when Mikael Backlund was ejected for a hit on Plotnikov. That incident prompted angry exchanges between Znarok and a Swedish team official. Sweden and the Czechs now have to recover for Sundays bronze medal game. "Its not the medal we wanted to play for the last game but we dont want to go home empty handed," Sweden forward Gustav Nyquist said. Bobby Hebert Jersey .C. United on Wednesday night. Forward Bright Dike scored the games only goal in the 85th minute on a foggy night in Bradenton, Fla. Rickey Jackson Jersey . His head snapped back from the impact and hit the floor. The All-Star power forward was all right afterward, a relief for the Minnesota Timberwolves. http://www.shoptheofficialsaints.com/Customized/.Best moustache: How can we not give this to Lanny McDonald? Check out the duster for yourself. Morten Andersen Jersey . -- The Guelph Storm are moving on to the Western Conference final after defeating the London Knights 5-4 on Friday in Ontario Hockey League playoff action. Sam Mills Jersey . -- Ben Brust scored 19 points to lead six Wisconsin players in double figures as the No.LOS ANGELES -- Mike DAntonis "Marshall plan" worked to perfection on a night when the Lakers coach didnt have any other choice. Pau Gasol had 23 points and 17 rebounds, and injury-riddled Los Angeles used its sixth different starting point guard of the season in a 110-99 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night. Kendall Marshall was given the assignment by DAntoni, who has used 18 different starting lineups this season. He was the 14th player to start a game for the Lakers overall, finishing with 20 points and 15 assists in 40 minutes -- all career highs. "Ive got to give all the thanks to my teammates. They did a great job of helping me out, as well as the coaches," Marshall said. "When were knocking down shots and playing defence, that makes it really easy on me." Marshalls other three starts in the NBA came last season with Phoenix, and the Suns lost all three games despite his 37 assists. He spent 2 1/2 weeks with the Delaware 87ers of the D-League before the Lakers signed him on Dec. 20. "Everything happens for a reason, so Im thankful for the position Im in right now and I want to make the most of it with this team," he said. Marshall began his freshman season at North Carolina as a backup point guard to Larry Drew II, before coach Roy Williams made him a starter. In one game, he had 16 assists to help beat Florida State. As a sophomore, he set an ACC single-season record with 351 assists. "One thing I do take pride in is being a leader," Marshall said. "It definitely felt like I was back at Carolina, just the way that we were playing tonight. There were a lot of similarities. We were getting up and down the floor, and Im excited about it. But the thing Im most excited about is starting the year with a win." The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Lakers, who concluded a four-game stretch against teams that are last in their respective divisions. Gordon Hayward scored 22 points for the Jazz. They never led in their rematch with the Lakers -- which came a week after Derrick Favours putback dunk with 2.1 seconds remaining beat them 105-103 at Salt Lake City and snapped Utahs four-game home losing streak.dddddddddddd Gasol missed that game in Utah because of a respiratory infection, joining Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake and Steve Nash on a lengthy infirmary list that also has included Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Chris Kaman. Johnson was back in the lineup and was the first player off DAntonis depleted bench, getting 11 points in 22 minutes after missing Tuesdays game because of gastroenteritis. Trailing by 21 points with 4 minutes left in the third quarter, Utah narrowed the gap to 90-86 with a 19-7 run capped by Enes Kanters short jumper with 4:47 to play. But Nick Young responded with a 20-footer to ignite a game-ending 16-9 run that was highlighted by 3-pointers 30 seconds apart by Jodie Meeks and Marshall. "I thought we had opportunities," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "I respect our guys for the way they fought back after we got ourselves in a big hole. We really cant afford to do that, especially on the road." Gasol led the Lakers to a 52-40 halftime lead with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Marshall had nine assists and seven points. Utah, trying for its first three-game winning streak of the season after beating Charlotte and Milwaukee at home, missed 12 of its first 15 shots while Los Angeles opened the game with a 19-6 run. "It seems like when Kobe comes back, were going to have a lot of guys coming back. ..." DAntoni said. "Hopefully we can stay within striking distance to at least give ourselves a chance going down the stretch and try to salvage the season." NOTES: With Bryant not close to returning from his fractured left knee, the Lakers already have been bumped from two nationally scheduled telecasts on the original cable schedule -- Jan. 8 at Houston (ESPN) and Jan. 20 at Chicago (TNT). ... The Jazz already have lost a league-worst 19 games by double-digit margins, just two fewer than they did all of last season. ... Utah, which came in 17th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage at 34.9, came up empty on its first nine attempts from behind the arc before Richard Jefferson connected with 4:04 left in the second quarter. ' ' '

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