Valtteri Filppula scored two third-period goals in just over two minutes to seal Finland's 5-2 victory against Switzerland Tuesday, the Finns' third straight win to begin their quest to win a second consecutive IIHF World Hockey Championship. After recording shutouts over Belarus and Slovakia, Finland's stout defense was finally breached by the Swiss, who gave the Finns their first real scare of the tournament.
After Jarkko Immonen opened the scoring for Finland in the first period, Andres Ambuhl tied the game in the second for Switzerland, becoming the first player to score on Finland in the tournament. But the game wasn't tied long, with Leo Komarov scoring just 21 seconds later to help Finland regain the lead. Immonen's second of the game gave the Finns what appeared to be a comfortable lead, but Roman Wick beat Finland goaltender Kari Lehtonen with 2:16 to play in the second period, putting the Swiss back in contention.
It was in the third that Filppula took over for Finland, scoring his first of the tournament just 19 seconds after Switzerland's Goran Bezina was sent off for interference. Filppula's second goal effectively put the game away, with Jussi Jokinen earning his second assist of the game. From there, Finland's suffocating defense clamped down on the Swiss, as Lehtonen made 26 saves for the win. The victory gave Finland sole possession of first place in their group ahead of Canada, which have two wins and one overtime loss.
Finland next plays Thursday against France before facing Canada Friday in what will likely be its first sizeable challenge of the tournament.
Russia 2, Germany 0
Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots for the shutout and Evgeni Malkin assisted on Nikolay Zherdev's game-winner, tying him for the tournament scoring lead as Russia remained undefeated at the World Championship with a 2-0 victory against Germany.
After enjoying comfortable wins against Latvia and Norway to open the tournament, the Russians were in tough against upstart Germany, which fired 13 shots at Varlamov in the opening period. Despite the barrage of shots in the first, the game remained scoreless until Zherdev tipped in Evgeni Medvedev's shot to score his first of the tournament with just nine seconds remaining in the period. The Russians enjoyed a 10-8 shot advantage in the second before Alexei Tereshenko doubled the lead in the third with Germany's Justin Krueger in the penalty box for slashing.
With his assist on Zherdev's goal, Malkin now has six points in three games, tying him with Sweden's Loui Eriksson for the tournament lead. The win also gave Russia a 3-0 record, tying it for first in its group along with Sweden. The two teams also have identical plus-seven goal differentials. The Russians next face Denmark Thursday before meeting the tournament host Swedes Friday.
Belarus 3, Kazakhstan 2
Desperate not to fall to 0-3 in the tournament and risk relegation, Belarus rode a sudden offensive outburst to its first win at the 2012 World Championship, a 3-2 victory against Kazakhstan.
After falling behind 2-0 on two goals from Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev, Konstantin Koltsov cut into the Kazakh lead just 66 seconds after Krasnoslobodtsev's second marker. Later in the second period, Mikhail Grabovski and Yevgeni Kovyrshin struck just 15 seconds apart to give Belarus the lead. Andrei Mezin secured the win for Belarus, stopping all 13 shots the Kazakhs fired in the third period. After improving its record to 1-2, Belarus expressed hope that brothers Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn may join the team after the Nashville Predators' elimination in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Latvia 5, Italy 0
After making the quarterfinals just once in the last eight years at the IIHF World Hockey Championship, Latvia is hoping to raise some eyebrows in 2012. Five different scorers found the back of the net for Latvia, including Oskars Bartulis, Miks Indrasis, and Ronalds Kenins, who each contributed an assist along with their goals.
The Latvians overpowered Italy in improving their tournament record to 2-1 after starting the tournament with a 5-2 loss to the Russians. Edgars Masalskis made 23 saves for the shutout win, which pulled Latvia ahead of the Czechs in its pool standings after the Czech Republic lost 4-1 to Sweden Saturday before requiring a shootout to top Norway 4-3 on Monday.