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Antropov, Kazakhstan fall to Russia

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

February 18, 2006

TURIN, Italy (AP) -- Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves in his second straight shutout and Alexander Kharitonov scored midway through the second period in Russia's 1-0 victory over Kazakhstan in men's hockey Saturday.

Nabokov, who was born in Kazakhstan but grew up in Russia, beat Sweden 5-0 on Thursday in his first Group B matchup. He has stopped all 48 shots he's faced in the tournament.

Nabokov played one international game for Kazakhstan when he was 18, which made him ineligible to play for Russia in the 2002 Olympics. He was cleared to join Team Russia two years ago after receiving an exception to international hockey's eligibility rules.

"It's kind of weird, because most of those guys I grew up with, and some of them were my best friends,'' Nabokov said.

Kharitonov was the only Russian player to solve Vitali Yeremeyev, who made 49 saves in a brilliant performance. The only goal came when Kharitonov got the rebound of Maxim Sushinsky's shot, carried the puck behind the net and stuffed it inside the right post before Yeremeyev could dive back and grab it.

Yeremeyev, who briefly played for the New York Rangers several years ago, stopped 15 shots in the first period and 22 in the second.

"We got a great game from our goalie, but so did they,'' said Nik Antropov of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "They're a hard team to beat because they play tough defence. We tried to a lot of things, but it was hard to get up the ice and set up.''

Nabokov, who plays for the NHL's San Jose Sharks, made 17 saves through two periods. He was severely tested several times early in the third when Kazakhstan (0-3) pressed for the tying goal. Antropov had the best chance, but his in-close drive was smothered.

The lead was tenuous because Russia (2-1) couldn't capitalize on any of its 13 power plays - including four two-man advantages in the second period.

"We've got to find a way to score more goals,'' Nabokov said. "We have to play a complete game. I don't think we can get through another game like this.''

The game was physical from the start and turned chippy in the second period as pushes, shoves and even cross-checks were delivered after whistles.

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