Defending champion Russia stayed perfect in Group A preliminary-round play at the World Junior Championship in Calgary by outlasting Slovakia 3-1 on Wednesday night.
The Russians won in regulation for the second time in as many games to move one point ahead of Sweden, a 4-3 shootout winner against Switzerland. The Russians face Latvia on Thursday before meeting the Swedes on Saturday in a game that should decide first place.
Mikhail Naumenkov broke a 1-1 tie 1:15 into the third period, and Igor Ozhiganov and Nikita Kucherov also scored for Russia. Milos Bubela had the lone goal for Slovakia, which fell to 1-1-0 despite a 37-save effort by Juraj Simboch.
Andrei Makarov made 31 saves for Russia, which has scored just six goals in its two wins -- but has allowed just one.
The Russians dominated the first period, outshooting Slovakia 18-8, but the Slovaks opened the scoring with 33 seconds remaining when Bubela fired a shot from the circle past Makarov's left pad.
Russia tied it at 4:11 of the second when Neil Yakupov set up a slapper by Ozhiganov from the left point that beat Simboch on his team's first shot of the period.
Naumenkov put Russia up 2-1 with a high wrister from the left point off a faceoff win by Ignat Zemchenko. Russia got some insurance with 5:29 left when Kucherov took a perfect passout from Mikhail Grigorenko and slammed it past Simboch.
The Slovaks have yet to defeat Russia in their 15 years of playing at the top level of the WJC.