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Sweden edges Russia in World Cup opening match-up

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

Mikael Backlund and Sweden held off a surging Russian team in the final stages of their first game at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, picking up a 2-1 victory on Sunday afternoon in Toronto, ON.

After scoring with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Russian captain Alex Ovechkin nearly tied the game with 8.2 seconds left on the clock but the goal was immediately waved off by the officials, who deemed the winger had batted the puck in with his glove.

Sweden's win gives them an early lead in Group B, which also includes Russia, Finland and Team North America.

Gabriel Landeskog opened the scoring with a power play goal in the second period. His one-timer flew past Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky at the 10:41 mark. Erik Karlsson and Nicklas Backstrom picked up the assists on the tally.

Just over two minutes later, defenceman Victor Hedman put Sweden up by two when he one-timed a pass from Carl Hagelin into the back of the net. Henrik Sedin had the secondary assist on Hedman's first of the tournament.

Swedish goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 27 stops on 28 shots. Bobrovsky finished with 27 saves on 29 shots.

Backlund, who was added to the Swedish roster earlier this month when Henrik Zetterberg withdrew from the tournament because of injury, skated on a line with Landeskog and Carl Soderberg. He had one shot, one takeaway, one blocked shot, and three hits in 15:38 of ice time. He won seven of his 14 draws in Sunday's contest.

Sweden's next game is on Tuesday when they square off with Finland at 1:00 PM MT (SN, ESPN, TVAS).

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