Canada has easy time with Slovakia

Posted: Thursday, September 02, 2004

MONTREAL Ryan Smyth scored two goals to lead Canada to a 5-1 victory over Slovakia on Wednesday night in the World Cup of Hockey.

Canada, which beat the United States 2-1 on Tuesday night, improved to 2-0 in the tournament and is now guaranteed a home game for the quarterfinals next Wednesday in Toronto.

Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning had a goal and an assist while Boston Bruins center Joe Thornton and Philadelphia Flyers forward Simon Gagne also scored for Canada.

Martin Cibak scored in the third period for injury-riddled Slovakia, playing its first World Cup.

Canada played without defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who will miss the rest of the tournament with a strained right knee. Defenseman Wade Redden also left the game early in the third period with an ''upper body injury'' and will be evaluated on Thursday.

The Slovaks, already missing Zigmund Palffy, Michal Handzus, Peter Bondra and Ivan Majesky to injuries, got another setback on Wednesday when Montreal Canadiens forward Richard Zednik was hospitalized with food poisoning.

Slovakia made a surprise decision to start Rastislav Stana in goal instead of usual No. 1 Jan Lasak and saw him beaten twice in the first five minutes.

Thornton stripped defenseman Zdeno Chara in front of the Slovak net and scored 3:02 into the game. Smyth added his first goal when he beat Stana at 4:43, and the route was on.

Canada closes out round robin play on Saturday against Russia in Toronto. Slovakia plays the United States Friday night in St. Paul, Minn.

Sweden 4, Czech Republic 3

STOCKHOLM, Sweden Peter Forsberg, Mattias Ohlund and Henrik Zetterberg each scored on the power play for Sweden, which nearly blew a four-goal, third-period lead before holding on for a 4-3 win over the Czech Republic in the World Cup of Hockey on Wednesday.

The victory clinched home-ice advantage for Sweden in the quarterfinals. Sweden is 2-0 in the four-team European pool going into Saturday's round-robin finale against archrival Finland, which shut out the Czechs 4-0 Monday.

Finland plays Germany away in Cologne on Thursday. The Czechs close out the round-robin portion Friday at home in Prague against Germany.

All four teams advance to the quarterfinals after round-robin play.

The Czechs had a chance to tie the game when, already with a man advantage, they pulled goalie Tomas Vokoun for an extra attacker with 1:48 left.

But the Czechs failed to capitalize on the two-man advantage. Mikael Tellqvist made two superb saves as the Czechs pressed in the Swedish zone.

The Czechs, now 0-2 in the tournament, outshot Sweden 18-2 in the last period and 40-20 overall.

''We slowed down in the third, they got two fast goals and suddenly they played great hockey,'' Swedish coach Hardy Nilsson said. ''It was close, but it's great to know we have home advantage in the quarterfinals.''

Frederik Modin put the Swedes ahead with his second goal of the tournament midway through the opening period. With 10:30 gone in the second period, Sweden had a 4-0 lead following the three power-play goals.

Veteran Martin Rucinsky started the Czech comeback when he tipped in Martin Havlat's slap shot three minutes into the third period. Just two minutes later, Marek Zidlicky fired a slap shot from the right circle that went through heavy traffic in front of the net and past the screened Tellqvist.

Patrik Elias cut the Swedes' lead to 4-3 at 5:35 left, beating Tellqvist with a backhander.

Jaromir Jagr, a five-time NHL scoring champion, finished without a single point for the second straight game.

The Czechs failed to score in the first five periods of the tournament.

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