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Russia beats U.S. 4-1; Belarus ties Finland 1-1 at world hockey championship

BERN, Switzerland - Russia scored three power-play goals to beat the United States 4-1 Saturday in a second-round match at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

The U.S. took an early lead but was made to pay for taking too many penalties as Russia rallied to make it 3-1 at the end of the first period.

Russia increased its lead on another power play early in the second, and the Americans never looked close to a comeback in the teams' first meeting at the world championship in five years.

Defending champion Russia secured a spot in the quarter-finals as a top seed, having won Group E with 11 points and a game to spare.

The U.S. is second at seven points with one game to play.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Lee Stempniak scored for the U.S. after 3:16, cutting in through the left circle to send a wrist shot through the pads of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

But the Americans were quickly called twice for hooking - by 19-year-old Colin Wilson and Kyle Okposo - and the Russians took full advantage.

Oleg Saprykin tied it with a shot from the crease on the first power play, and Alexander Perezhogin connected on a pass from behind the net to beat goalie Robert Esche on the second.

Russia took a 3-1 lead at 17:06 when Sergei Mozyakin's slap shot beat Esche low to his right, with the puck bouncing in via the post.

Okposo was then called for charging early in the second period, and Alex Radulov increased Russia's lead by taking a reverse backhand pass from Saprykin and beating Esche.

The experienced Russians then shut down the young American team - which has an average age of just over 24 - the rest of the way. The only Russian player younger than 24 was Radulov, the 22-year-old forward who broke his Nashville Predators contract last summer to play for native club Salavat Yulayev.

The teams last met in a second-round match at the 2004 worlds in the Czech Republic. The U.S. won that game 3-2 in Ostrava on its way to a bronze medal, the last time it has finished on the podium.

Elsewhere Saturday, Latvia and the Czech Republic took big strides toward reaching the quarter-finals with dominating wins.

Latvia knocked France out of contention in a 7-1 rout at Bern, while at Zurich the Czechs handed neighbouring Slovakia an 8-0 thrashing for its worst-ever loss in world championship play.

Meanwhile, Oleg Antonenko scored the winning shootout goal as Belarus gained an extra point after beating Finland 2-1 at Zurich.

The result gave Belarus six points and a likely spot in the quarter-finals. It will progress if Canada beats Norway on Sunday.

Canada, which had a rest day, leads Group F from Finland and the Czech Republic.


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