Russia crushes U.S. in hockey Worlds bronze-medal game

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Russia easily beat the U.S. in a World Championship medal-round meeting for the second straight year, taking bronze 7-2 in Moscow on Sunday.

Reigning Olympic and World champion Canada and Finland play for gold later Sunday in Moscow (1 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Live Extra).

The Russians, led by Alex Ovechkin, were up 4-0 after 33 minutes Sunday and earned their third straight World medal after gold in 2014 (following their Sochi Olympic quarterfinal exit) and silver in 2015.

The U.S. just missed matching its bronze-medal finishes from 2013 and 2015. Still, the Americans are on their most consistent quadrennial run at Worlds in 50 years, since their last World title in 1960.

The U.S. squeaked into the quarterfinals after group-play losses to Canada, Finland, Germany and Slovakia. It then ousted the Czech Republic 2-1 in a quarterfinal shootout Thursday and led Canada 3-2 before falling 4-3 in the semifinals Saturday.

The U.S. roster at Worlds included zero Olympians and, though it had many NHL players, two had made an NHL All-Star team (Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings). The U.S.’ average age was 23, making it the youngest team in the tournament.

Sunday’s bronze-medal game was also notable given the U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly investigated the ongoing Russian Olympic sports doping scandal that implicates the Russian Olympic women’s hockey team.

The May 2017 Worlds are co-hosted by France and Germany.

At the 2018 Olympics, the U.S. and Russia are guaranteed to play each other as they are in the same group, along with Slovakia and a qualifier to be determined in September.

MORE: 2018 Olympic hockey groups announced