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Czechs beat Russia despite Ovechkin's arrival at Worlds

Associated Press

5/8/2011 2:29:10 PM

KOSICE, Slovakia -- The Czech Republic overcame the arrival of Alex Ovechkin to beat Russia 3-2 Sunday and maintain a perfect record at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Jakub Voracek, Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec scored a goal each for the Czech Republic as Ovechkin couldn't help Russia avenge a 2-1 loss to the Czechs in the final of last year's worlds.

"It was a tough game, to the last second," Czech forward Martin Havlat said.

Voracek gave the Czechs a 1-0 lead with a backhand on a rebound 14:01 into the opening period and Jagr doubled the advantage 1:51 later for his second goal of the tournament.

Two Czech players -- forward Milan Michalek and defender Karel Rachunek -- left the game and didn't return after taking big hits from Russian forward Yevgeni Artyukhin in the second period. Rachunek was bleeding from his head but Artyukhin escaped without a penalty for that check.

"It wasn't a pretty game," Jagr said. "There were a lot of penalties and power plays."

Alexei Tereshenko pulled a goal back for Russia on a power play midway through the middle period but Tomas Plekanec converted a penalty shot to restore a two-goal lead 3:27 into the third.

Russia only answered with a goal from Danis Zaripov with 4:56 remaining.

"We started well the first 10 minutes but then we made some defensive mistakes and the Czechs scored two goals, that shouldn't have happened," Russia coach Vyacheslav Bykov said.

The Czechs outshot the Russians 33-26.

Ovechkin joined the Russian team Saturday after his Washington Capitals were eliminated from the NHL playoffs, but failed to make an impact in his first game after a tiring trans-Atlantic flight.

Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec made 24 saves for the win.

The Czech have secured the top spot in Group E with one more game to play in the qualifying round and will meet the fourth team from Group F in the quarter-finals.

Also Sunday, Mikael Backlund scored 7:47 into the third period and added an empty-net goal to give Sweden a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Switzerland to secure a place in the quarters. The result means that the United States also advanced.

Sweden goalie Viktor Fasth posted his third shutout of the tournament.

"They had a lot of opportunities but we blocked shots well and our goalie was great for us tonight," Backlund said. "He's been outstanding for us this tournament."

Slovenia and Austria were relegated from the top division Sunday after losing their final relegation round matches: Slovenia was trounced 7-1 by Belarus, while Latvia beat Austria 4-1.