TURIN, Italy (AP) - Four games, four victories and a rising prominence in world-class hockey. Slovakia has accomplished much so far in the Olympic men's tournament, even if its stars say they have yet to do anything.
Pavol Demitra led a 3-on-1 break to set up Marian Hossa's go-ahead goal in the third period and unbeaten Slovakia played barely well enough to edge winless Kazakhstan 2-1 Sunday in Olympic men's hockey.
"To tell the truth, I don't think many people expected it," Hossa said of the 4-0 start. "The real tournament starts in the medal round. These games were not that important."
The Slovaks acted as if the game meant nothing, even though they are playing to be top-seeded in their group going into the quarterfinals. They clearly missed the intensity they had in beating the United States 2-1 on Saturday.
"I don't think we were as ready as yesterday," defenseman Zdeno Chara of the Ottawa Senators said.
Kazakhstan has been held to four goals while being the only team in the 12-team tournament to go winless through four of five round-robin games in Turin. But Kazakhstan led 1-0 until Bondra scored on a power play with 10 seconds remaining in the second period, his third of the tournament. He also scored the game-winner against the United States.
"The turning point was the goal we took in the final 10 seconds of the period," said Kazakhstan forward Nik Antropov of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hossa, Bondra's teammate with the Atlanta Thrashers, made it 2-1 with slightly less than 12 minutes remaining. Demitra, of the Los Angeles Kings, sped out of the neutral zone with the puck and carried it to the goal line before centering it to Hossa, who tipped it past goalie Vitaly Kolesnik for his fourth goal.
Slovakia has beaten Russia, the United States, Latvia and Kazakhstan, with Sweden (3-1) left to play on Tuesday.
Are the Slovaks positioning themselves for a gold medal run?
"It's a little bit too early for that," Demitra said. "There are still a lot of surprises left in this tournament."
Slovakia won with its backup goalie, Karol Krizan, who made 18 saves in only his second game for the national team. The only goal he allowed was by Yevgeniy Koreshkov on a pass from younger brother Alexandr.
Slovak coach Frantisek Hossa, Marian's father, was off his game, too. He played Florida Panthers forward Jozef Stumpel for a period without listing him on the team's lineup sheet, and Stumpel could not play for the rest of the game after the mistake was caught.
A crowd of 9,160 filled every seat in the Sports Palace except those reserved for IOC dignitaries. An American-style marketing gimmick helped - last-minute tickets were priced at a bargain 3 euros.
"The crowd was great," Demitra said. "They cheered us for the full 60 minutes - even though we only played well for 40 minutes."