Monday, May 10, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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World hockey championships: Canada beats Sweden for gold

The Associated Press

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PRAGUE, Czech Republic — Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester scored the winning goal, and Canada rallied to beat Sweden for the second straight year in the gold-medal game at the world hockey championships.

Yesterday's 5-3 victory gave Canada its 23rd world title, tying it with the Soviet Union-Russia.

The United States won the bronze medal earlier in the day with a 1-0 victory in a shootout over Slovakia. It was the first medal at the worlds for the United States since it finished third in 1996. The United States placed 13th last year.

Bouwmeester helped secure the gold for Canada when he took a perfect pass from Atlanta Thrashers forward Dany Heatley while rushing the net and put a shot between the pads of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

The last time Canada won back-to-back titles was in 1958 and '59.

"It hadn't been done since 1959 and it's great," Canada captain Ryan Smyth of the Edmonton Oilers said. "It tops off the NHL season a bit better and helps finish the year off right.

"We got better every game and here we are, very proud."

Sweden lost for the first time at this year's tournament.

Jonas Hoglund scored his fifth goal 2:13 in with a sharp shot from the middle of the slot that got past screened goalie Roberto Luongo.

Daniel Alfredsson made it 2-0 for Sweden at 7:34. The Ottawa Senators' forward smoothly followed through on a pass down the center of the ice from Peter Forsberg of the Colorado Avalanche and then rifled a shot from the top of the slot over Luongo's extended right pad.

Smyth cut the deficit to 2-1 at 13:58, but Sweden restored its two-goal lead at 4:47 of the second period on Andreas Salomonsson's goal.

Heatley continued his fine play at the tournament by outdueling two defenders and putting in a high shot from the crease at 14:44. Rob Niedermayer of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks got Canada even at 3 with 4:24 left in the period.

Bouwmeester put Canada ahead for the first time 20 seconds into the third period.

Matt Cooke of the Vancouver Canucks made it 5-3 at 10:12, deflecting in a long, wide shot by Niedermayer.

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