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Russia defeats Switzerland 5-3 to set up quarter-final rematch

NHL.com @NHL

QUEBEC - Russia and Switzerland played 60 minutes of hockey just so they could do it all again later this week.

Unbeaten Russia got first-period goals from Dmitry Kalinin, Alexander Ovechkin and Maxim Sushinsky and went on to defeat the Swiss 5-3 on Monday at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Russia finished first in its group and dropped Switzerland to fourth place, so the two teams will have a rematch in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. The second-place Czech Republic will meet third-place Sweden in the other quarter-final the same day in Quebec City.

Sergei Fedorov added a goal in the second frame for Russia, but Rafaele Sannitz, Julien Vauclair and Romano Lemm scored for the Swiss in the third around an empty-net marker from Sushinsky.

In other action at the tournament Monday, it was: the United States 9 Norway 1; Denmark 3 Belarus 2 (OT); and Germany 5 Latvia 3.

At Quebec City, for two periods, it was all Russian speed and pin-point passing, but they let up just as the Swiss went on full attack in the third period to set up an exciting finish for the 8,286 fans at the Pepsi Colisee.

"Our job today was to get through the neutral zone, where Switzerland tried to build a solid, disciplined defence," said Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov, speaking in fluent French learned from living for a decade in Switzerland.

"A few times, we were able to do that, but it isn't easy to beat a team that stays back and tries to counterattack from the neutral zone."

After two periods, Russia had a 28-8 shot advantage, but it ended up 37-22 as the Swiss played a more aggressive offensive game.

"We wanted to see the two systems and how they worked," said Swiss defenceman Goran Bezina. "We want to apply the second one (in the quarter-final) because if you let them come at you like that, it's good some times but not on every shift.

"We're going to have to go after them. We have to make them play the puck. That's when they make mistakes. They're pretty good in the neutral zone and the offensive zone, but in the defensive zone, that's where we can catch them."

Russia was good on every inch of ice for two periods, dazzling the Swiss with their quick puck movement. Switzerland did not get a shot on goal until 10:07 into the game.

Kalinin crept in from the point to convert a cross-ice feed from Danis Zaripov at 15:21. Ovechkin tipped Ilya Kovalchuk's point shot in from the slot on a power play at 17:49 and Sushinsky breezed past defenceman Beat Forster and beat Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller at 18:45.

Fedorov scored with Alexander Semin standing in Hiller's crease 10:27 into the second frame.

Sannitz scored on Switzerland's first power play chance 32 seconds into the third period on a point blast that sailed past Evgeni Nabokov. Then Vauclair made an end-to-end rush short-handed and beat Nabokov with an off-wing wrist shot at 5:30.

Hiller was pulled for an extra attacker with three minutes left to play and Sushinsky got his second of the game into the empty net at 17:25. One minute later, Lemm banged in a goal for the Swiss on a feed from Andres Ambuhl.

"I think we just stopped playing," said Kovalchuk, who had 52 goals for the Atlanta Thrashers this season but remains without a goal in the tournament. "They didn't do anything.

"They just tried to chip the puck in and forecheck us all the time. But we lost our concentration and started trying to beat a couple of guys by ourselves. We need to play our game."

Switzerland has made great strides in recent years and is now in the top eight among hockey playing countries, but the talent gap with a team of stars like Russia is evident.

The Swiss were coming off a 7-2 romp over lowly Denmark on Sunday, but saw the tables turned against Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and Co.

Switzerland's Canadian-born coach Ralph Krueger called the game a learning experience for a team that, besides its goalies Hiller and Martin Gerber, has only a handful of players who have played even one game in the NHL.

Their only full-time NHL skater, Montreal Canadiens defenceman Mark Streit, is out with a back injury.

"We knew we'd see a lot more speed than we saw against Denmark," said Krueger. "We were hoping to keep the score close to stay in the game for a longer period of time.

"That three-minute lapse at the end of the first period was really just built on individual mistakes. The Russians punish you so quickly when you leave gaps or lose a one-on-one or give them a power play at the wrong time. And that all happened back-to-back."

Bykov said former Pittsburgh Penguins forward Alexei Morozov, injured by a crushing hit by Sweden's Douglas Murray on Saturday, should be ready to return for the quarter-final. His spot in the line-up was filled by Sergei Mozyakin.

United States 9 Norway 1

At Halifax, the United States wrapped up its qualifying round schedule with a rout of Norway.

New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky had a hat trick as the Americans scored three times in each period to bury the overmatched Norwegians.

With the win, the U.S. (3-2) locked up third place in Pool F while Norway fell to 1-4. Both teams advance to the next round, with the Americans meeting Finland and Norway facing Canada.

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Denmark 3 Belarus 2 (OT)

At Quebec City, Peter Regin scored his second goal of the game in overtime as Denmark beat Belarus.

Kim Staal also scored for Denmark (1-4).

Alexei Ugarov and Dmitry Meleshko replied for Belarus (0-3).

Neither team advance to the quarter-finals.

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Germany 5 Latvia 3

At Halifax, Christoph Ullmann had a goal and two assists to lead Germany over Latvia.

Christoph Schubert, Christopher Schmidt, Michael Wolf and Yannic Seidenberg also scored for Germany (1-4).

Herberts Vasiljevs, Mikelis Redlihs and Martins Karsums scored for Latvia (1-4).

Neither teams qualified for the quarter-finals.

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