May 4, 2013 / 9:43 PM / 6 years ago

Ice hockey: Russia thrash Latvia, U.S. and Canada win

Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk (L) scores past Latvia's goalie Maris Jucers during their 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship preliminary round match at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki May 4, 2013. REUTERS/Alexey Kudenko/RIA Novosti/Pool

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Russia’s Ilya Kovalchuk scored one goal and made another as the defending champions hammered Latvia 6-0 in their opening group game of the ice hockey world championship in Stockholm.

The Russians were ruthless in disposing of the Latvian challenge, scoring three goals in the second period to take a 4-0 lead.

Two further goals in the final period put the champions out of sight and into second place behind Finland with a game in hand.

Finnish goalkeeper Antti Raanta registered a shutout on his international debut as the co-hosts beat a strong Slovakia side 2-0 in Helsinki to top their group on five points after two games.

“I couldn’t have wished for any more,” Raanta told Finnish TV. “The guys did a great job in front of goal. We improved our play in the second period and Slovakia didn’t get any more good chances.”

Co-hosts Sweden recovered from an embarrassing 3-2 loss to Switzerland in their opening game as they squeezed out Czech Republic 2-1 in the late game in Stockholm

Canada and the United States got off to winning starts in their group games.

The Canadians came back from a goal down to beat Denmark 3-1 in Stockholm, while two goals from Erik Johnson helped a jittery U.S. side overcome Austria 5-3 in Helsinki.

In the day’s other game in Stockholm, Norway took the lead after a minute against Slovenia and never looked back, running out 3-1 winners to join Canada at the top of the group.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor in Stockholm; Editing by Sonia Oxley

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