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World Championship Opens Up In Sweden, Finland

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

The IIHF World Championship play kicked off on Friday in Sweden and Finland and four Panthers players were involved in the action. It was a mixed bag of results as Slovakia (Tomas Kopecky) and the Czech Republic (Tomas Fleischmann) were on the winning end while Germany (Marcel Goc) and Sweden (Jacob Markstrom) were on the wrong end of close affairs.

The United States along with Nick Bjugstad (vs Austria) and Canada with Brian Campbell (vs Denmark) begin their IIHF World Championship play on Saturday in Helsinki and Stockholm respectively.

Slovakia 6 - France 2

Slovakia scored once in the first and twice in the second on their way to a 6-2 victory over France.

Slovakia actually scored the game's first five goals before France potted two to ruin Rastislav Stana's shutout bid. Skating on Slovakia's top line and donning an A, Kopecky picked up an assist on Slovakia's fourth goal, setting up Branko Radivojevic with Slovakia on the power play and 3:50 gone in the third period. He finished with 14:43 of ice time. STORY

Finland 4 - Germany 3 (OT)

Goc had a big game for his team as Germany almost pulled an upset, holding a late lead but were only able to pick up a point in a 4-3 overtime loss to Finland.

Goc set up all three of Germany's goals, including one that gave Germany a 3-2 lead with 3:05 to play but Finland answered with 1:29 left on the clock to force overtime where VM Savinainen scored 1:58 into the extra session. Germany's assistant captain also had assists 10:21 into the second to tie the game at one and a power play helper to tie the game at two 2:34 into the third.


Czech Republic 2 - Belarus 0

It was a defensive struggle between the Czech Republic and Belarus as both former Panther Alexander Salak (Czech Republic, 21 saves) and Vitali Belinski (Belarus, 34 saves) were up for the challenge but in the end it was the favored Czechs skating away with the 2-0 victory.

Flyers forward Jakub Voracek scored a power play goal 11:03 into the first and that would all Salak would need but Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata added another power play goal in the third for the final tally. Fleischmann failed to find the score sheet while picking up two shots on 16:03 of ice time while skating on the top line with Vrbata and Martin Hanzal.


Switzerland 3 - Sweden 2

Markstrom got the nod to start for Sweden and was strong in allowing just two goals on 23 shots but Switzerland Martin Gerber was just a little bit better in stopping 29 shots on the way to a 3-2 upset victory.

The Swiss jumped out to a 2-0 advantage as Matthias Bieber and Nino Niederreiter scored less than six minutes apart early in the second. The gold and blue answered with a power play goal from Johan Fransson with 1:50 left in the period. Switzerland added an empty net goal with 33 seconds remaining while Simon Hjalmarsson brought Sweden to within one with 22 seconds left on the clock.


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