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Successful First Games At The Worlds

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

By Glenn Odebralski for

While many were out celebrating Mother's Day, and rightfully so, three Panthers players picked up wins in their first games of the World Championships Sunday in Germany.

Tomas Vokoun turned away 20 shots as the Czech Republic earned a 6-2 victory over France in the early game in Mannheim while Dmitry Kulikov and Russia posted a 3-1 win over Slovakia and Sweden topped Norway 5-2 in the late action with Jacob Markstrom serving as the team's backup netminder to Jonas Gustavsson.

In the opening game of Sunday's action, the Czech Republic showed their power against the overmatched French team.

The Czechs outshot France 41-22 in the affair and six different Czechs scored in a 6-2 victory. NHL great Jaromir Jagr was also on, recording three assists.

The scoring started early, just 44 seconds in (to be exact), as Jagr set up Petr Hubacek for the give-and-go goal. They would build their to 2-0 through the first 20 minutes when Jiri Novotny slammed home a rebound at 11:43.

They would then double their lead through 40 minutes of play with two in the second. Petr Gregorek's shot deflected off a stick 3:23 into the middle frame and Karel Rachunek scored less than two minutes later on the power play.

Lukas Kaspar scored 6:06 into the third to make it 5-0 before France finally found a way to beat Vokoun. Yorick Treille jammed a puck past the Panthers netminder 6:27 in while Laurent Meunier scored on a backhand at 8:37 to bring them to 5-2. Miroslav Blatak finished the scoring with a third power play goal for the Czechs with 33 seconds left.

Vokoun finished with 20 saves in the contest.

RUSSIA 3 - Slovakia 1
The Russians have to be favored to win the World Championships. I mean Alex Oveckin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov and the list keeps going on and on. So an opposing team has to have one heck of a game from their netminder in hopes of winning.

And in Sunday's affair, Slovakia almost pulled it off.

It took awhile for the Russian attack to find the back of the net as Peter Budaj turned away shot after shot. He stopped 14 of 15 shots in the opening frame with the only goal coming off of the stick of speedster Maxim Afinogenov. The forward who spent last season with Atlanta scored with 5:09 left in the opening period with a high wrist shot.

Budaj was equally as good in the second, turning away 15 shots. But Russia would double their lead as Alex the Great scored at the 9:23 mark with a wrister.

Outshot 31-19 through two periods of play, the Slovaks finally found some life in the third. Ivan Majesky scored 3:51 in to get the score to 2-1. But despite outhooting the Russians 14-3 in the final period, they couldn't find the equalizer.

Viktor Kozlov would put the game away with an empty net goal with 54 seconds left in the contest.

Kulikov was paired with Vitali Atyushov on the second defensive pair for the Russians and finished with 14:32 of ice time on 17 shifts. He finished with one shot on net.

SWEDEN 5 - Norway 2
It was a close game early in the third period and was actually tied at two. But that was before Sweden pulled away with three goals for a 5-2 victory in Mannheim.

And they can thank Matthias Weinhandl. The forward netted three in the game, leading them to the victory.

Finding himself on a breakaway, Weinhandl was stoned on the attempt. But later in the shift he roofed the puck 6:43 into the contest for his first.

Ottawa's Erik Karlsson scored a power play goal 12:45 to make it 2-0. And that's how it ended after the first.

Norway took it to Sweden in the middle period, netting the only goal of the stanza. Patrick Thoresen beat Toronto's Gustavsson with a quick shot just 20 seconds in to make it 2-1.

The Norwegians tied the score five minutes (4:57) into the third as Henrik Solberg buried the pass past Gustavsson.

In a position they didn't want to be, against the underdog Norwegians, Sweden would respond about two and a half minutes later. Weinhandl deflected Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson's shot past the goaltender at the 7:08 mark. Then Paajarvi-Svensson scored with 5:29 left to play to make it 4-2.

Weinhandl recorded his third of the night with a power play goal with 2:17 left in the contest to finish out the scoring.

Markstrom served as Sweden's backup netminder.

CANADA 5 - Italy 1
Canada opened up regulation play with a convincing 5-1 victory over Italy.

It was close early as the Canadians only held a 2-1 lead over the Italians after one period of play.

Anaheim's Corey Perry scored just 2:43 into the game. But Italy would pull even 12:44 in when Michele Strazzabosco beat St Louis' Chris Mason with a blast from the point.

Columbus' Kris Russell scored with 48 seconds left in the frame on a Canadian power play.

From there it was all Canada. Colorado's Matt Duchene beat the netminder short side 5:57 into the second. Then on a delayed penalty, Duchene set up Tampa's Steven Stamkos for the easy tap in 10:37 in.

Calgary's Rene Bourque scored the final goal of the game  with 2:31 left in the contest to bring it o 5-1.

Canada outhsot Italy 45-24 in the contest.
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