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Sweden Falls to Russia

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

February 16, 2006

TORINO, Italy (AP) - Discipline and defence aren't words regularly linked to Russian hockey teams of recent vintage. One afternoon of desperation changed that.

Alex Kovalev and Alexander Ovechkin scored less than two minutes apart during a three-goal second period and Russia rebounded from its loss to open the Olympics by dominating Sweden 5-0 on Thursday.

Evgeni Nabokov, benched by the San Jose Sharks prior to the Olympic break, turned aside 24 shots and the Swedes were 0-for-7 on the power play. Maxim Sushinsky, Viktor Kozlov and Maxim Afinogenov  also scored for a Russian team motivated by a 5-3 loss to Slovakia only 18 hours before.

''It's unbelievable to win against Sweden,'' defenceman Darius Kasparaitis said.

The Russians created numerous odd-man rushes with the help of some unusually strong play by their defencemen - a group considered among the weakest of the primary medal contenders.

''You are begging for trouble when you give up 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s to a speedy team like this,'' Sweden's Mats Sundin said.

Sweden was coming off a 7-2 rout of Kazakhstan, but goalie Henrik Lundqvist - enjoying a standout rookie season with the New York Rangers - never looked comfortable even as Russia was going 1-for-8 on the power play.

''You're probably going to have one bad game like that in any tournament, and hopefully we got it out of the way,'' Sundin said.

Kovalev got the Russians going on a slapshot goal from the left circle faceoff dot. Ovechkin added his second in as many games and Maxim Sushinsky scored on a 3-on-1 break later in the second off Evgeni Malkin's perfect pass across the slot.

''The young guys really came through today, especially in that second period to generate those scoring chances,'' Kovalev said, referring to Ovechkin and Malkin.

Kozlov and Afinogenov iced things in the third.

The loss to Slovakia was one of Russia's most disappointing in the Olympics since its 1980 Miracle on Ice loss to the United States in Lake Placid.


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