Czech Republic beats Switzerland 3-1

Updated: May 3, 2005, 2:05 PM ET
Associated Press

INNSBRUCK, Austria -- The United States routed Slovenia 7-0 in its opener at the hockey world championship Sunday, with Mike Knuble scoring two goals and goaltender Rick DiPietro facing only 15 shots.

Slovenia, a newcomer to international hockey's top annual event, was greeted with a goal by Knuble 31 seconds after the opening faceoff. It was one of the fastest goals in the history of the worlds.

"In the NHL I had two goals in the first 27 seconds, set a record once there for the fastest two goals in a game," said Knuble, an eight-year NHL veteran who played in Sweden this season. "I could have had a hat trick [today], but I never get hat tricks so I wasn't expecting one."

Adam Hall, Mark Parrish, Jeff Halpern, Yan Stastny and Brian Gionta also scored for the United States, which finished third in last year's tournament. Mike Modano, the Dallas Stars' standout who hasn't played much this season during the lockout, went pointless.

In the early game in Vienna, the Czech Republic scored three power-play goals and beat Switzerland 3-1. Jaromir Jagr had one of the goals for the Czechs.

In late games, Sweden, the 2003 and 2004 runner-up, beat Ukraine 3-2 in Innsbruck while Kazakhstan downed Germany 2-1 in Vienna.

Knuble, named the player of the game for the United States, had a great chance to make it 2-0 six minutes after his opening goal. But Slovenia goalie Robert Kristian thwarted him with a pad save on a breakaway. Knuble beat Kristian for his second goal at 5:48 in the second, banging in a loose puck in front of the crease to make it 4-0.

"I have a newfound respect for Mike Knuble and the way he's been able to carry people on his back," U.S. coach Peter Laviolette said. "He played relentless hockey, digging for pucks and making things happen."

Knuble, who scored 20 goals or more in his previous two seasons with the Boston Bruins, had 26 goals in 49 games with the Swedish club Linkoping this year.

"I'm not a superstar-type of guy that can sit around and still have the skills," he said, explaining his decision to move to Europe during the lockout that canceled the NHL season.

Canada, the two-time defending champion, and the United States are in the same preliminary group in these championships. They meet in the round-robin finale Thursday. The United States' next opponent is Latvia on Tuesday. Latvia lost to Canada 6-4 on Saturday.

Knuble thinks the Americans can do as well in this tournament as last year, when the United States had its best finish since coming in third in 1996.

"Our goaltending is very capable of leading us to a medal," he said. "We've got a great defense and capable forwards. It's a fun tournament. It's fun to play hockey again.

"A lot of us are tired of dealing with the NHL, thinking about the NHL, the lockout and that. So we want to concentrate on playing hockey and come together quickly."

In Vienna, Vaclav Prospal and Jagr converted on a pair of power plays in the first 7:31 of the game and the Czech Republic easily handled Switzerland. Severin Blindenbacher also scored on a power play midway through the first but Frantisek Kaberle restored the two-goal advantage early in the third on another man-advantage. The Czechs outshot the Swiss 41-23.

Dmitri Upper and Yevgeniy Koreshkov scored for Kazakhstan in its victory.

At Innsbruck, Daniel Alfredsson beat goalie Kostyantyn Simchuk to the glove side with a wrister from the slot at 10:08 to clinch Sweden's victory. Sweden, missing national team stars Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin and Markus Naslund, led on first-period goals by Magnus Kahnberg and Kenny Jonsson. Sweden outshot Ukraine 48-17.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press