COLOGNE, Germany – Alex Ovechkin scored his fourth goal in four games and Russia remained perfect at the hockey world championship with a 3-2 victory over host Germany on Saturday.
Two-time reigning champion Russia jumped ahead 2-0 after 26 minutes with goals by Ilya Kovalchuk and forward Nikolai Kulemin. But Christian Ehrhoff scored with one second left in the second period to trim the deficit.
Ovechkin re-established Russia’s two-goal advantage with 10 minutes remaining, and it was needed as Alexander Barta pulled the Germans to within 3-2 with six minutes to play.
Russia goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 32 shots to secure the victory.
“They played us tight and they took a lot of emotion from the crowd. They have great fans and they fed off that,” said forward Pavel Datsyuk, who joined Russia on Friday from the NHL playoffs.
Russia improved to 3-0 and a perfect nine points for first place in Group E in the second round of the tournament. Russia also had a preliminary-round win against Kazakhstan that does not count as part of its second-round record.
Germany remained on three points for fourth place.
In Group F, Switzerland proved its performance was no fluke by beating the Czech Republic 3-2 to improve to 3-0 and a full nine points for sole possession of first place.
Martin Pluss and Andreas Ambuhl gave the Swiss a 2-0 lead after 14 minutes. Jan Marek made it 2-1 then Ambuhl’s increased Switzerland’s lead to 3-1.
Miroslav Blatak made it 3-2 with five minutes to play in the second period but Martin Gerber made 30 saves to preserve the victory.
The Czech Republic was fifth place among six teams with three points.
Canada had the day off before meeting Sweden on Sunday.
In relegation action, Matt Gilroy had a hat trick and the United States ended its scoring struggles Saturday with a 10-0 victory over Kazakhstan.
TJ Oshie, Kyle Okposo, Nick Foligno, Ryan Potulny, Brandon Dubinsky, Tim Kennedy and Chris Kreider also scored for the Americans, who had only tallied four goals in three first-round games. Dubinsky also had four assists.
Oshie opened the scoring just 55 seconds into the game and assisted on a goal 18 seconds later by Okposo. Gilroy added two goals by the 10:20 mark of the second and Scott Gordon’s team had the offensive boost it had been seeking.
“It was good to get some goals on that first shift. And the rest of the guys just kind of fed off it,” Oshie said. “We’re really not where we want to be. We wanted to play in the other bracket. But it’s nice to get the monkey off our back and get a win.”
The onslaught continued in the second period with Foligno, Potulny, Gilroy, Dubinsky and Kennedy finding the back of the net for a 9-0 lead.
Kreider finished off the scoring in the final minute.
The Americans next play Sunday against France.
“We have to go home and get some sleep,” Gilroy said. “The start will be the key. We need to have a good start like we did today.”
The U.S. is in the relegation round for the first time since 2003 and must finish in the top two of the four-team Group G.
France beat Italy 2-1 in the other relegation game after goals by Baptiste Amar and Laurent Gras. Michele Strazzabosco scored for Italy.