ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Sean Haggerty's late goal pulled the United States into a 1-1 tie with surprising Latvia at the World Hockey Championships on Sunday, keeping intact the Americans' unbeaten streak.
In other matches, Finland and Canada solidified their chances of advancing to the final eight, the Finns defeating reigning Olympic and world champion Czech Republic 6-4 and the Canadians blanking Italy 6-0.
Russia, meanwhile, continued to self-destruct in front of its furious home fans, losing 1-0 to the former Soviet republic Belarus for its fourth straight defeat.
The Americans had already locked up their place in the quarterfinals and took the lead atop the Group E standings with six points after a 3-3 tie with Switzerland, a 3-0 victory over Russia, a 3-2 win over France and a 3-2 victory over Belarus, as well as their tie with Latvia.
"We're still undefeated and we've played very good hockey," said the Calgary Flames' Phil Housley, the NHL's all-time American scoring leader.
Latvia stunned their rivals and fans alike, jumping to a 1-0 lead just 6:33 into the game. Aleksandrs Kercs made a perfect pass from the American net to Rodrigo Lavins, who fired a slap shot from the blue line through heavy traffic in front of the crease and past American goalie Robert Esche.
The small Baltic nation kept the Americans scoreless until midway through the final period, when Haggerty rushed the Latvian net, scoring as he crashed into the prone Arturs Irbe.
The Americans will now face 1998 champion Sweden in a fight for the top spot in the group.
"We've got our hands full with Sweden," Housley said. "It's going to be one of the toughest teams we're going to face."
The latest loss leaves Russia stranded at the bottom of its group table. Its medal hopes had already been snuffed out Saturday.
It marked the first time either Russia or the Soviet Union failed to make the quarterfinals since its first world championships in 1954.
Russia was heavily favored at the beginning of the competition, because it boasted an impressive all-star cast of NHLers that included the Florida Panthers' Pavel Bure, Ottawa Senators holdout Alexei Yashin and the Chicago Blackhawks' Alexei Zhamnov.
But it was a goal by Buffalo Sabres forward Vladimir Tsyplakov that gave Belarus the win. Tsyplakov deflected Aleksei Kalyuzhny's long shot into the net.
Finland's chances of advancing were greatly enhanced when the Montreal Canadiens' Juha Lind scored the tying goal.
Goals by Frantisek Kaberle and the Ottawa Senators' Vaclav Prospal gave the Czechs a 2-0 lead. After Petteri Nummelin's goal at 17:44 narrowed the gap to 2-1, the teams traded power-play goals early in the second period. Nummelin scored his second at 2:26 and Michal Sykora answered at 4:45. Jyrki Lumme of the Phoenix Coyotes knotted the score again less than four minutes later.
In the third period, Czech Jiri Dopita scored before Finland tallied three successive goals within six minutes to clinch the victory.
The Florida Panthers' Mike Sillinger scored and Montreal Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore shut out Italy, restoring Canada's hopes for a quarterfinal berth.
The Vancouver Canucks' Peter Schaefer opened the scoring with a wraparound goal at 3:37, while Sillinger added the second for Canada at 8:59, knocking in a rebound. Vancouver's Mike Johnson gave Canada a 3-0 lead at 4:28 of the second.
The Chicago Blackhawks' Steve Sullivan and Vancouver Canucks' Adrian Aucoin each scored power-play goals in the second, while Sillinger ended the scoring with another power-play goal with 2:01 left in the game.
It was Theodore's second shutout of the tournament.
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