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Finland beats Denmark to improve to 2-0, Czech Republic downs Austria

Finland beats Denmark to improve to 2-0, Czech Republic downs Austria

Minnesota Wild defenseman Petteri Nummelin netted two power-play goals Sunday to lead Finland to a 6-2 win over Denmark at the Hockey World Championship.
In Mytischi, Jaroslav Hlinka scored twice and had an assist to lead the Czech Republic to a 6-1 victory over Austria and a place in the qualifying round.
Nummelin, playing in his 13th world championship, gave Finland a 1-0 lead on a 5-on-3, beating Denmark goaltender Michael Madsen with a wrist shot into the top corner at 7:36 in the first period of the Group D game.
The Finnish lineup includes 10 NHL players, and Jere Lehtinen of the Dallas Stars is expected to join the team before the end of the first round.
"We were able to play our game," said Finnish captain Ville Peltonen, who plays for the Florida Panthers. "We played with a lot of patience. Our power play worked well and our penalty killing was good too."
Finland, a team many consider a strong candidate to win the gold medal, defeated Ukraine 5-0 in its first game and also advanced to the qualifying round with Sunday's win. Denmark dropped to 0-2.
Denmark tied the game at 12:49 on another 5-on-3 power play. Jesper Damgaard's low shot from the point got past Atlanta Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen, who was screened and had no chance to make the save.
Minnesota winger Mikko Koivu, the brother of Montreal Canadiens star Saku Koivu, gave the 2006 Olympic silver medalists a 2-1 lead two minutes later with a short-handed goal.
Koivu banked the puck off the boards at his own blueline to beat a Danish defender and then scored on a breakaway.
Nummelin scored his second of the game on yet another 5-on-3, beating Madsen with a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle with just over a minute left in the opening period.
Peltonen scored Finland's third 5-on-3 goal at 3:28 of the second period to give his team a three-goal lead.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Aki Berg scored early in the third, and Jukka Hentunen added another midway through the final period to complete the scoring for Finland.
Denmark got one back on a power play after Hentunen's goal. Christoffer Kjaergaard took a perfect centering pass from Frans Nielsen and redirected the puck past Lehtonen.
Finland will face a much bigger challenge in its next game when it plays host Russia on Tuesday.
"Russia will be a big challenge for us," Peltonen said. "They have a lot of skilled players and it will take a complete effort. The first two games have been pretty one-sided so this will be a good test for us."
As in their 8-2 thumping of Belarus on Friday, the Czechs were ruthless on the powerplay, converting three times.
Peter Sykora opened the scoring with a one-timer on the powerplay just 3:55 into the contest. Hlinka made it 2-0 six minutes later, getting the puck past Bernd Brueckler on the short side.
The Austrians put up more resistance in the second period, limiting the Czechs to one goal, a powerplay goal from Petr Caslava at 10:02.
Raimund Divis ruined Roman Cechmanek's shutout bid with Austria's lone goal. Divis wristed the puck from the sideboards over Cechmanek's left shoulder at 17:08.
The Czechs widened the lead in the final period: Michal Barinka's slapshot rocketing past Brueckler, Hlinka banging in a rebound, and Jan Marek flicking the puck from behind the embattled goalie.
The Austrians are now in a must-win situation on Tuesday against Belarus, which finished sixth in last year's tournament. When the two nations met at last year's worlds, Belarus won 5-0.
"I believe our chances are 50-50. I don't see either team with an advantage," Austrian head coach Jim Boni said. "We're trying to stay in the A division. This is our first chance."
Should they fail, Austria would play the relegation round in an attempt to avoid dropping out of world hockey's elite group.
Belarus plays the United States later Sunday.
The Czechs, who are bidding for their third consecutive gold medal game appearance, will face their first real test of the tournament Tuesday when they play the United States.
"That will be a tough game, our first real game here," Hlinka said.


Updated : 2021-06-25 00:41 GMT+08:00