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Russia looks for another shutout when it faces Latvia

NHL.com @NHL

After giving up five goals in its first game, Russia has tightened up its defense.

The Russians look to shut down another offense Sunday as they face Latvia in preliminary-round play.

Russia lost its first match of the tournament, falling 5-3 to Slovakia. The Russians have not allowed a goal in two games since, defeating Sweden on Thursday 5-0 and Kazakhstan on Saturday 1-0.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been in net for both shutouts. He stopped 24 shots Saturday, and has turned aside all 48 shots he has faced during the tournament.

Nabokov was not eligible to compete for the Russians in the 2002 Olympics, because he played one international game for his birth country of Kazakhstan when he was 18.

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

Anaheim Mighty Ducks backup goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov allowed all five goals in the loss to Slovakia.

Nabokov's strong goaltending helped make up for Russia's struggles on offense Saturday, when the team went 0-for-13 on the power play - including four two-man advantages in the second period.

Russia, which will face the United States on Tuesday, has scored just two power-play goals during the tournament.

"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."

Alexander Kharitonov scored the lone goal Saturday for Russia, which outshot Kazakhstan 50-24.

"There are a lot of teams that can score, but we have to play defense," said defenseman Darius Kaspairaitis of the New York Rangers. "Especially in games like this, we have to have patience and try to win 1-0 or 2-0. It doesn't matter."

Russian coach Vladimir Krikunov told reporters after the game that forward Alexander Frolov was injured during Saturday's matchup and might not be able to play for the rest of the Olympics.

Frolov is tied for second on the Los Angeles Kings with 19 goals and is fourth with 49 points.

After forging a 3-3 tie with the United States in its first game of the tournament, Latvia is still looking for its first win at Turin.

The Latvians fell 6-1 to Sweden on Saturday and have allowed 12 goals in their last two games.

Maris Ziedins scored the lone goal against Sweden midway through the third period. Sergejs Naumovs made his first start of the tournament in place of former NHL goaltender Arturs Irbe and stopped 34 of 40 shots.

After Sunday's game, Latvia wraps up its preliminary-round play Tuesday against Kazakhstan.

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