Russians, Swedes Jump To Top Of Respective Groups

Panthers prospect Yaroslav Kosov's hat trick helps Russia to top of Group B, Sweden rolls past Latvia in Group A.

Saturday, 12.29.2012 / 3:25 PM
Shawn P. Roarke  - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

Yaroslav Kosov netted a hat trick in the third period and four other Russian players had two points as the Russians routed Germany, 7-0.

The Russians have eight out of a possible nine points to temporarily hold first place in Group B. Russia frittered away perfection in the opening game of the tournament, defeating Slovakia in OT to take just two of the maximum three points.

Canada, with six points from two games, plays the United States on Sunday and can re-take first-place with a regulation win against the Americans. The Russians have Sunday off and then play Canada in what could be the deciding game of the group on Monday.

On Saturday, the hosts dominated the Germans (0-3) from the start. Germany plays Slovakia on Sunday and must win in order to have any hope of avoiding the relegation round.

Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevski stopped all 41 shots he faced.

"I think we have more skill on our team, which is why we were able to score seven goals and didn't allow any," Danil Zharkov told IIHF.com. "Now we have a day off to prepare for our next game. It's, of course, going to be a very physical game, and both teams have good goaltenders. I'm really looking forward to it."

The Russians scored three goals in the first period to put the game out of reach early.

Nikita Kucherov scored the opening goal just 78 seconds into the game on a pretty saucer pass from Mikhail Grigorenko. Captain Nail Yakupov and Zharkov scored the other first-period goals

Albert Yarullin made it 4-0 on the power play before Kosov took over the game.

Sweden 5, Latvia 1

Defending champion Sweden remained unbeaten with a 5-1 victory against Latvia Saturday.

With the win, Sweden remains atop Group A with 8 points. Latvia, meanwhile, has yet to win at the tournament and will play in the relegation round.

Sebastian Collberg scored what proved to be the game-winner for Sweden and Viktor Arvidsson had two goals. Emil Molin and Alezander Wennberg each had a goal, as well. Captain Filip Forsberg had two assists for Sweden.

Teodors Blugers had the only goal for Latvia.

"I think we played really well," Swedish coach Roger Rönnberg told IIHF.com. "We did everything but scoring in the first half of the game. I think it’s a tough situation, just winning the game 2-1 at the start of the third period. But the boys handled the situation really well. They kept their focus, kept shooting."

Despite allowing five goals, Latvian goalie Ivars Punnenovs was the star of the game, making 41 saves. Swedish goalie Niklas Lundstrom finished with 20 saves.

Sweden now has a day off before facing Finland on New Year's Eve in a game that will go a long way in shaping the Group A standings. Latvia finishes with the Czechs on Sunday.

The Swedes will face traditional rival Finland on New Year’s Eve. Latvia concludes its round-robin slate against the Czech Republic on Sunday.

"It’s going to be a tough challenge for us," Rönnberg said of the game against Finland on Monday. "I think Finland has maybe the best team they’ve had in my three years as a head coach at the World Juniors. They always put together teams that are working hard, but this year they have really skilled forwards. I think we have to play our best to have a chance against them."

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