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Winning Group Play

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

By Glenn Odebralski for

One final day of pool play and first seed was on the line in both Group A and Group C play.

With that Russia and Sweden took home the top seeds but off of different results.

Russia remained perfect in Group A by beating Belarus 3-1. Sweden on the other hand lost to the Czech Republic 2-1. They retained the top spot due to a greater goal differential over the Czech Republic and Norway (all three finished with six points after pool play).

It was probably the most anticipated matchup of pool play, especially in Group C.

And the Czech Republic and Sweden did not disappoint, especially with respect to the goaltenders.

Florida's Tomas Vokoun and Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson took turns making highlight reel saves with Vokoun one better in the end as the Czech Republic earned the 2-1 victory.

The Czechs outshot Sweden 37-32 overall.

The scoring got started early, just 54 seconds in. Killing a penalty, Czech captain Tomas Rolinek outworked Erik Karlsson and found himself on a partial breakaway. There he beat Gustavsson just inside the left post.

And that's how the first would end. 1-0.

Sweden would tie the score at one 4:03 into the second when Edmonton prospect Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson beat Vokoun under his arm.

The Czechs would regain the lead for good at the 10:42 mark. Right out of the penalty box, Jiri Novotny raced down on a 2-on-1 with Petr Hubacek. The two would convert as Hubacek ripped a shot past Gustavsson above his blocker.

And that was it for the scoring despite several huge opportunities in the third.

Vokoun was named the Czech's Player Of The Game for his 31 save effort.

Sweden will face Latvia Friday, while the Czech Republic plays Switzerland on Saturday.

RUSSIA 3 - Belarus 1
Getting their only NHL goalie into action in the final game of pool play, Capitals netminder Semyon Varlamov found his groove in stopping 19 of 20 shots as the Russians earned a 3-1 victory over Belarus.

Varlamov had not played since the Capitals had lost in Game 7 to Montreal in the first round of the playoffs. He got offensive support in the first two periods as Russia posted the game's first three goals.

Russia would strike for their first goal 10:45 into the first as Sergei Mozyakin converted on a power play, beating Andrei Mezin from the doorstep.

The Russians would then pot two more goals within a 1:42 of each other midway through the second to pull away from Belarus. Washington sniper Alex Ovechkin scored his third of the tournament 12:21 in with a wrist shot while the NY Rangers Artyom Anisimov cashed in on a rebound Mezin at the 14:03 mark.

Belarus would break through 7:30 into the third as Alexei Kalyuzhny solved Varlamov off of a rebound from in close.

The first seed from Group A, Russia will play Germany on Saturday.

Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov finished the game with one shot on goal on 12:39 of ice time (16 shifts).
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