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Slovakia 6, Latvia 3

NHL.com @NHL

TURIN, Italy (AP) - Don't sleep on Slovakia.

Atlanta Thrashers forward Marian Hossa scored twice to lead the Slovaks to a 6-3 win over Latvia on Thursday, making them the only 2-0 team in Group B play in Olympics hockey.

With 18 NHL players on its roster, Slovakia beat Russia 5-3 in the opener for both teams the previous day.

"We have some of the fastest players back in the NHL and our goalie is better than people think," said Los Angeles Kings forward Pavol Demitra, who scored one of Slovakia's four first-period goals. "It's too early to talk about gold, but we didn't fly 15 hours just to play here."

Anaheim defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh scored for Latvia, which pulled within a goal in the second period but could not stay with the Slovaks as it did the United States in a 3-all tie Wednesday. Former NHL goaltender Arturs Irbe made just 19 saves for the Latvians after stopping 39 shots against the Americans.

"We both played last night and I think both teams were a little worn down," Irbe said. "In those situations, talent can get you through a game and Slovakia has a lot of skill."

Slovakia's Jan Lasak stopped 25 shots and was quickly given a cushion when Montreal forward Richard Zednik and Ronald Petrovicky of the Thrashers scored 20 seconds apart early in the first period. Demitra and Hossa added goals later in the period to give the Slovaks a 4-1 lead.

Martins Cipulis and Aleksandrs Nizivijs scored to make it 4-3 early in the second period, giving Latvia some hope, before Zdeno Chara gave the Slovaks a two-goal cushion later in the period.

Slovakia's forwards have stunning speed, especially Hossa, and display great teamwork, as they showed on the final goal when Hossa finished a give-and-go play past a badly fooled Irbe.


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