Johan Harju of Sweden celebrates his team's third goal with team mates during the IIHF World Championship group C match between Sweden and France at SAP Arena on May 11, 2010 in Mannheim, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)
The Lightning prospects participating in the 2010 IIHF World Championships in Germany made their presence felt today as Sweden defeated France, 3-2, while Slovakia downed Belarus, 4-2. Team Russia advanced to the second round, 4-1, on the backs of NHL stars Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk, although Tampa Bay prospect Vasily Koshechkin did not get the start in net.
Recently-signed forward Johan Harju scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal for the Swedes who saw their 3-0 lead dwindle as France scored twice in the third period before falling 3-2. Even with the narrow win, Sweden clinched their place in the qualification round.
Team Slovakia received a scare of their own as they found themselves down 2-0 to an upstart Belarus squad halfway through their game in Cologne today. Lightning draftee Richard Panik aided in the come back with two assists, both primary, including one on the game-tying goal as the Slovaks outscored the Belarusians 4-0 in the final 30 minutes.
Russia continued their already impressive tournament in their win over Kazakhstan with goals from Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Alexander Semin and Denis Grebeshkov as the defending gold medalists improved to 2-0-0. Koshechkin, an eighth-round pick by the Lightning in 2002, played in the opener for the Russians, but gave way today to fellow KHL goalie Alexander Eremenko who earned the win. Washington Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov is the only Russian netminder yet to appear in a game.
Also today the Norwegians stunned the Czech Republic, 3-2, in Manheim. It was the first time in 18 games and 73 years that Norway beat the Czechs at the World Championships or Olympics. The two teams had previously tied on two different occasions, 1996 and 1994.
Both the United States and Canada will be back in action tomorrow. Mike Lundin and Team USA will be searching for their first win of the tournament when they take on Finland while Canada will take on the squad from Switzerland with Steven Stamkos currently carrying a two-game goal streak.
In other news today, Belarus announced that they have added 18-year-old defenseman and Lightning draft pick, Kirill Gotovets, to their roster. He is eligible to play in the remainder of the preliminary round as well as subsequent rounds.