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Suchy Earns an Assist, Slovakia Defeats Russia, 5-3

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
TORINO, Italy (AP) -- Marian Gaborik beat two defenders on a rush out of his own zone with three minutes remaining, and Slovakia pulled off the first upset of the Olympic hockey tournament by beating Russia 5-3 Wednesday night.

The Blue Jackets' Radoslav Suchy earned an assist to help the team win.

Gaborik raced down the right wing boards, broke toward the net at the right circle and beat goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a wrist shot that flew inside the far post. Then, to seal one of the biggest wins in his country's history, Gaborik - of the Minnesota Wild - scored again in nearly identical fashion from the opposite circle with 29 seconds remaining.

The loss was the latest disappointment in international play for the talented Russians, who have had repeated breakdowns in big tournaments in recent years.

The loss doesn't mean the Russians can't earn a medal, but puts pressure on them to not lose again in their remaining four games in group play. The Russians, who got the bronze in 2002, must come back and play talented Sweden on Thursday only 18 hours after losing to Slovakia.

Slovakia didn't make it out of Olympic qualifying round play in 2002 because most of its top players were playing in the NHL and weren't excused in time. But with a full cast on hand and a different format that eliminated those play-in games this time, its quality forwards give it a chance in every game.

As Russia soon found out.

Pavol Demitra scored nine minutes in to give Slovakia a 1-0 lead ahead of Pavel Datsyuk 's tying goal for Russia. The Slovaks twice came back from one-goal deficits in the second period on power play goals by Lubomir Visnovsky and Peter Bondra.

Alexei Kovalev and NHL rookie star Alexander Ovechkin had put Russia ahead with goals.

The victory led hundreds of Slovak fans, many dressed in wild colors, to cheer wildly, dance in the stands and chant for five minutes after the game

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