Sweden tops Ukraine in first round

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RIGA, Latvia (AP) – Olympic champion Sweden beat Ukraine 4-2 behind Fredrik Emvall’s two goals Saturday night in an opening qualification-round game at hockey’s world championships.

Emvall, making his world championship debut at 29, also set up Andreas Karlsson’s power-play goal late in the second period to put Sweden up 3-2. Mika Hannula also scored for the Swedes, who have only a handful players from the Olympic team.

In the other Group B game, Switzerland beat Italy 3-1. Russia got three goals apiece from Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and beat Kazakhstan 10-1 in its opening Group C game. Belarus upset Slovakia 2-1 behind two power-play goals and 36 saves from goalie Andrei Mezin in the other Group C game.

The United States, which defeated Norway in its Group D opener Friday, plays Denmark on Sunday.

Ovechkin, a finalist for the NHL’s Rookie of the Year award with the Washington Capitals, scored the first of four first-period goals for Russia 1:36 into the game. He swept behind the Kazakh defense and knocked home a pass from Evgeni Malkin, who finished with a goal and three assists.

Denis Arkhipov made it 2-0 Russia a minute later, and the rout was on. Dmitri Bykov and Konstantin Gorovikov also scored for Russia.

Malkin’s was undoubtedly the goal of the night. After stealing the puck near center ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect broke in alone on Kazakh goalie Roman Medvedev, who dove headlong at Malkin to deflect the puck. Malkin dove over him and redirected the airborne puck into the net to give Russia a 6-1 lead.

Kazakhstan’s Yevgeniy Koreshkov spoiled the shutout at 17:40 of the first, scoring a power-play goal that cut the Russian lead to 3-1.

Medvedev was pulled for Sergey Tambulov after Ovechkin’s third goal at 9:39 of the second period. Medvedev saved just half of the 14 shots he faced, but he had little chance on the shots that beat him.

Belarus forward Dmitry Meleshko broke a scoreless tie at 14:18 of the second period. Slovakia, which won its only world title in 2003 in Sweden, drew even three minutes later. Ivan Ciernik took a soft pass through the crease from teammate Richard Kapus and flipped it in. The win is Belarus’ second against Slovakia, the last coming in 2000.

Italy took the lead midway through the second period on Anthony Iob’s power-play goal after an opening session marred by 24 penalty minutes. Switzerland scored three goals in the final period. Ivo Ruthemann tied the score 4:56 in, and Patric Della Rossa put the Swiss ahead seven minutes later. Switzerland outshot Italy 41-14. After a single round-robin series in each of the four groups, the top three teams from each pool advance to the qualification round. That round consists of two groups with six teams each.

The championship, held for the first time in Latvia, ends May 20.



Associated Press writer Tim Jacobs contributed to this report.

AP-ES-05-06-06 1714EDT

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