Ilya Kovalchuk had been curiously silent for such a potent goal scorer at the 2011 IIHF World Championships in Slovakia, but with Russia and Canada deadlocked at 1-1 in the third period of Thursday's quarterfinal match, the Russian sniper delivered with a shot from between the circles that beat Canadian goalie Jonathan Bernier at 12:19 of the third period.
Kovalchuk's blast gave Russia a 2-1 comeback win over the rival Canadians that has earned the European hockey power a date with Finland in Friday's semifinal round.
A win for Russia seemed unlikely early on considering Canada had thoroughly outplayed Russia in the first period. Canada held a 17-6 edge in shots after 20 minutes, giving the Canadians an edge they would hold throughout the game, and one that made them seem a safe bet to advance after Jason Spezza's breakaway goal gave Canada a 1-0 lead at 5:32 of the second period.
But the tables turned in the third as a shorthanded breakaway goal by Russia's Alexei Kaigorodov tied the game at 9:07 of the final period, and Kovalchuk's score off a sharp feed from Alexander Radulov completed the rally just over three minutes later. In advancing to the semifinals, Russia managed to overcome not only a significant 37-20 shot disadvantage, but also a meek power play that was fruitless in five opportunities with an extra man. The win likely wouldn't have happened without an impressive 36-save performance by Russian goalie Konstantin Barulin.
Russia will face Finland Friday evening with the winner advancing to Sunday's Gold Medal Game against the winner of the other semfinal, to be played between the Czech Republic and Sweden Friday afternoon.