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Rangers make instant impact at Worlds

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Highlights from Sweden-Denmark Game Watch

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Three Rangers players made their 2008 World Championship debuts on Thursday, and all three came away winners on the opening day of the tournament's qualifying round

Henrik Lundqvist
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, playing his first international game for Sweden since helping his nation win Olympic gold in 2006, stopped 17 of 18 shots in the Swedes' lopsided 8-1 victory over Denmark in Quebec City. Lundqvist was working on a shutout of the Danes until Kasper Degn scored with only 5:28 remaining in the third period of the Group E game.

With its win, Sweden improved to 2-1-0 vs. qualifying-round opponents and is now tied for second in Group E. Denmark  remained winless against the five other teams in Group E. The top four of six Group E teams will advance to medal-round play.

Swedish Elitserien star Tony Martensson paced his team with two goals and two assists, while his Linkoping teammate, former NHLer Mattias Weinhandl, had a goal and three assists.

Lundqvist has traditionally worn No. 35 for Sweden in international tournaments, but is wearing the No. 30 he wears for the Blueshirts at this year's Worlds.

"It was really fun to put on the Tre Kronor sweater again," Lundqvist told after the game.

Michal Rozsival
In other games involving Rangers players on Thursday, Michal Rozsival and his Czech Republic teammates crushed previously unbeaten Switzerland 5-0 in Group E play at Quebec City, and Brandon Dubinsky and Team USA downed Germany 6-4 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to climb into second place in group F. Both Rozsival and Dubinsky are representing their countries for the first time in a major international tournament.

Rozsival, wearing No. 28 for this tournament since his Rangers No. 3 is taken by Marek Zidlicky of the Nashville Predators, was paired on the second defensive unit with Filip Kuba of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He took one shot on goal in the first period and finished with a plus-1 rating in 17:50 of icetime. Goalie Milan Hnlicka, who played two games for the Rangers in 1999-00, recorded the shutout for the Czechs.

The Czechs, who outshot Switzerland 33-12, scored three times in the second period to break the game open. New Jersey's Patrik Elias led the way with a goal and an assist for the Czechs, who now lead Group E at  2-0-1 against qualifying-round opponents --including a 1-0-1 record against them in the preliminary round . Switzerland lost to a Group E opponent for the first time and is now 2-1-0 along with Sweden.

Brandon Dubinsky
Wearing No. 16, Dubinsky did not record any points in his Team USA debut, but did manage two shots on goal in 12:38 of ice time. He played on the Americans' No. 2 line with Florida's David Booth and Chicago's Patrick Kane.

New Jersey star Zach Parise, wearing Dubinsky's NHL No. 17, broke a 4-4 tie with 8:56 remaining in the third period. Team USA, coached by John Tortorella, had dominated the game in outshooting Germany 41-15, but struggled against a remarkable netminding performance from San Jose prospect Dmitri Patzold, who finished with 36 saves. Robert Esche recorded the win in net for Team USA, entering the game in relief of Craig Anderson and stopping all six shots he faced in the third period.

Team USA is now 2-0-1 and in second place in Group F. Winless Germany is tied with Latvia for fifth place.

Rangers defenseman Fedor Tyutin will skate for Russia against Belarus in his first game of the tournament on Friday
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