Ice Hockey: Sweden top Russia, North America stun Finland

Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:56pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Jacob Markstrom stepped in admirably for Henrik Lundqvist as Sweden held on to beat Russia while Team North America dazzled in their debut with a dominant win over Finland at the World Cup of Hockey on Sunday.

Markstrom, who started in place of an ill Lundqvist, kept Russia's potent scoring attack off the board until Alex Ovechkin scored with 33 seconds remaining but Sweden hung on for a 2-1 win in the tournament opener for both teams.

"You got to be ready every time you come to the rink," said Markstrom, 26, who only learned he was starting in net a couple hours before the game.

"You can't just come in with a muffin and hot chocolate... you got to prepare yourself and get the body to be ready if it's time to go."

Lundqvist is one of the finest goaltenders of his generation and a key reason why Sweden are expected to reach the gold medal game on Oct. 1, but Markstrom showed he was up for the challenge as he made 27 saves in the win.

Markstrom, who has competed in world championships and has won a gold medal on the international stage, had little time to settle in as he was forced to stop a Vladimir Tarasenko one-timer 30 seconds into the game.

Sweden's Gabriel Landeskog opened the scoring in the second period when his slapshot from just outside the faceoff circle glanced off the post and past the screened Russian goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky.

Victor Hedman doubled Sweden's lead two minutes later when he came off the bench and immediately took a feed from Carl Hagelin and sent a one-timer into the net for what proved to be the game-winner.   Continued...

Sep 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Team Sweden Goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) makes the save against Team Russia in the first period during preliminary round play in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports