NHL.com -- Andrej Sekera scored the eventual game-winner in the closing seconds of the first period and Miroslav Satan sealed the biggest upset yet of the 2012 IIHF World Championship with an empty-netter in the final minute, as Slovakia defeated the United States 4-2 Monday at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.
It is the first loss of the tournament for the U.S., which was coming off its big overtime win against Canada on Saturday, while the win is the first of the tournament for Slovakia.
The Slovaks jumped out to a surprising 2-0 lead early in the first period, as Dominik Granak beat American goalie Jimmy Howard just 47 seconds into the game and Branko Radivojevic doubled the lead 4:17 later. The U.S. got on the board when Justin Faulk scored at 15:41 of the first, but Sekera's eventual game-winner took much of the wind out of the U.S. sails, as he put Slovakia up 3-1 with just six seconds to go before the first intermission.
The U.S. pulled within one goal late in the second, taking advantage of a two-man advantage when Paul Stastny scored to make the game 3-2, but that was as close as the Americans would get. Slovakia's Jan Laco stymied them the rest of the way, making 18 saves as the U.S. was badly outshot by a 32-20 margin and significantly hindered by a double minor for high sticking assessed to Cam Atkinson in the third period.
Canada 7, France 2
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins buried a feed from Patrick Sharp just 1:59 into the first period, setting the tone for a four-goal first period as Canada took the lead early and never looked back in a 7-2 win against France Monday at the IIHF World Championship at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.
Canada is now 2-1 in the tournament, with its lone blemish an overtime loss to the United States this past weekend, while the French are now 1-2 and unlikely to move beyond the opening round robin.
Sharp easily put in the most impressive performance of the day for either side, scoring a goal of his own later in the first period to go with four assists he would compile over the course of the game. Jamie Benn had a big afternoon, too, scoring twice in the first and assisting on Nugent-Hopkins' score early in the game. Nugent-Hopkins added a second goal in the third period to give Canada a 6-2 lead before Corey Perry capped off the scoring with a goal with just under eight minutes to play in the game.
The Canadians had already jumped out to a 4-0 lead before France got on the board on an even-strength goal by Brian Henderson with 38 seconds to go in the opening period. After a goal by Canada's Jordan Eberle in the second period, the French pulled back within three 30 seconds later on a shot by Alexandre Rouleau, but that would be the last time France found the back of the net, as Canada's Devan Dubnyk finished the game with 19 saves on 21 shots. France's Fabrice Lhenry made 30 saves on 37 shots.
Czech Republic 4, Norway 3 (SO)
The Czech Republic trailed twice and let a late lead slip away as a result of inconsistent play throughout regulation, but Ales Hemsky came to the rescue with the shootout winner, as the Czechs avoided a major round-robin upset against Norway at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm.
Hemsky put a forehand past Norway's Lars Haugen in the first round and Jakub Kovar stopped all three Norwegian shooters to allow the Czechs to escape victorious in the first shootout of the tournament.
The Czechs improved to 2-1, while Norway fell to 0-3, but picked up its first point in the process.
The Norwegians managed to give the Czech Republic all it could handle, taking a 1-0 lead at 11:16 of the first period on a power-play goal by Mathis Olimb, who also picked up an assist when Norway took its second lead of the game on Lars Erik Spets' goal early in the second. But each time the Czechs managed to draw even, first on Hemsky's first-period goal from Petr Nedved and again in the second when Petr Tenkrat and Petr Caslava set up David Krejci with just under three minutes remaining in the second.
It finally appeared the Czech Republic had wrested control of the game away from Norway when Michael Frolik gave the Czechs their first lead of the game at 7:56 of the third, but 2:55 later Jonas Holos would tie the game for Norway, forcing overtime and putting the Norwegians on the brink of their second-consecutive upset win over the Czech Republic in World Championship play. Norway defeated the Czech Republic 3-2 at the 2010 tournament in Germany.
Sweden 6, Denmark 4
Loui Eriksson tallied two goals and an assist as Sweden jumped out to a big early lead and held off a late rally to beat Denmark at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. Sweden is now a perfect 3-0 at the tournament, while Denmark dropped to 0-3 following prior losses to the Czech Republic and Italy.
Eriksson's two goals both came as part of a big first period in which the Swedes opened up a 4-0 lead by the time the game was 12 minutes old. Viktor Stalberg, who also had two goals in the opening period, got the scoring started at 2:06 of the first.
Denmark's lone goal of the first came when Nichlas Hardt scored on a two-man advantage with 1:33 left before intermission, but when Daniel Alfredsson scored 43 seconds into the second to make it 5-1, the Swedes had restored their big lead.
Alfredsson's goal ended up being the game-winner. Jonas Brodin scored at 9:16 of the second to make it 6-1 Sweden, but from that point on the Danes took advantage of a shaky performance by Sweden's Jhonas Enroth to make the game close. Hardt scored his second goal on a power play with 73 seconds left in the second and a goal by Lars Eller just 21 seconds into the third pulled Denmark to within 6-3. Morten Green scored at 11:27 of the third to make it a two-goal game, but Sweden managed to hold on from there.
Danish goalie Frederik Andersen, despite a rough first period, finished with 36 saves on 42 shots.