The United States and Canada kicked off their World Championship play with scares as they trailed early but picked up three points in the end against pesky Austria and Denmark teams.
In the late games, it was a goaltending battle as Finland earned a 2-0 victory over Slovakia and Sweden outlasted the Czech Republic 2-1.
UNITED STATES 5 - AUSTRIA 3
HELSINKI, Finland - The Americans found themselves trailing early as Austria struck twice in a forty second span less than six minutes in but thanks to Colorado blueliner Erik Johnson and Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad, struck for four goals in the second period on their way to a 5-3 victory.
Austria got on the board 4:58 into the contest off an United States turnover as Manuel Latusa scored. Daniel Welser scored on a rebound shot 40 seconds later as the underdogs caught the USA off guard.
The power play got the US on the board where Calgary's David Moss scored midway through the first. Then Bjugstad and Johnson connected to knot the game at two 3:38 into the second. The Cats 2010 first round pick (19th overall) kept the puck in at the blue line before sliding it over to Johnson. The defenseman sent a low shot from the center of the ice that tied the game.
Tim Stapleton gave the US their first lead of the game 9:31 in and then Bjugstad helped set up the eventual game-winner 1:26 later where Aaron Palushaj found the back of the net. Austria would get to within one with a breakaway goal in the wide-open second but Johnson scored his second of the game on another power play to restore the two-goal cushion with 1:28 left in the period.
After the offensive outburst of a second, the teams failed to find the scoresheet in the third for the 5-3 final. Bjugstad was strong while centering the fourth line with Palushaj and Danny Kristo on the wings. He picked up the two assists and finished a plus-1 despite playing in a low 10:39 of ice time.
CANADA 3 - DENMARK 1
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - The underdogs got on the scoreboard first but Canada kept buzzing the Denmark zone and pulled out a 3-1 victory to open their World Championship play as Colorado's Matt Duchene led the way with two goals.
Carolina captain Eric Staal took an early penalty and the Danes struck just 34 seconds into it and 4:50 into the game as M Green's shot beat Edmonton netminder Devan Dubnyk. That would all the offense they could find however as he stopped the other 24 shots to record the victory.
Denmark actually held the lead for half the game before Duchene scored the first of his two pretty goals, outwaiting Simon Nielsen before flipping a backhand into the net with 9:45 to play in the second. They quickly capitalized on the momentum and scored the eventual game-winner 1:23 later as Tampa Bay sniper Steven Stamkos netted a power play goal 35 seconds into a slashing penalty.
Duchene gave Canada the two-goal cushion 7:03 into the third after making a deke around a defenseman and finding the back of the net. Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell was paired with Philadelphia blueliner Luke Schenn on Canada's second pair and recorded four shots and a plus-2 on 20:19 of ice time, the third most for a Canada player.
FINLAND 2 - SLOVAKIA 0
HELSINKI, Finland - The Fins got on the board 11:28 into the game and that's all Antti Raanta would need as he turned aside all 36 shots from Slovakia on the way to a 2-0 victory in the second game for both teams.
Juhamatti Aaltonen scored the first goal of the game and it looked like that would be it for either side as Raanta and Slovakia's Rastislav Stana turned in big performances. Raanta was the busier of the two netminders, turning aside 15, 12 and nine shots in each of the periods while Stana saw three, 14 and four shots on his end.
Petri Kontiola gave Finland a 2-0 lead 2:09 into the third period to allow the Fins to pick up five out of a possible six points in the first two games. Forward Tomas Kopecky finished with three shots and a minor penalty on 15:42 of ice time.
SWEDEN 2 - CZECH REPUBLIC 1
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - After being upset in their first game of the tournament, Sweden was in a need for the points against the Czech Republic and they scored twice in the second period and held on to do so.
Sweden defenseman Henrik Tallinder actually took a late checking to the head/neck area late in the first period for a Czech power play but it was Sweden who had control as they outshot the Czechs 15-3 and a 1-0 advantage. If not for the stellar play of former Panthers Alexander Salak, the game might have gotten out of hand early. Jimmie Ericsson got the gold and blue on the board 10:14 into the game.
Sweden made it a 2-0 advantage with the eventual game-winner just 3:38 into the second period as Tallinder scored with a wrist shot from the point. The Czechs got to within one as Jiri Hudler redirected a shot past Jhonas Enroth with 7:20 left in the second but that was it. The rest of the way it was the battle of the goaltenders.
Panthers netminder Jacob Markstrom served as Enroth's backup in the victory while forward Tomas Fleischmann finished with 15:54 of ice time in the loss.