Backstrom lifts Swedes; Canada survives Norway

Updated: April 30, 2007, 5:05 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Nicklas Backstrom scored 29 seconds after the opening faceoff and Sweden went on to an 8-2 win over Latvia on Monday and claim a place in the qualifying round of the hockey world championships.

In Mytischi, Shane Doan converted on a power play early in the third to complete Canada's rally and help it survive a second scare in as many games, beating Norway 4-2 in Group C.

Also in Group C, Peter Podhradsky scored twice to lead Slovakia to a 5-1 win over Germany and a place in the qualifying round, while Switzerland joined Sweden in advancing out of Group A with a 2-1 victory over Italy.

Backstrom was one of eight players to score for the defending world and Olympic champion, which improved to 2-0.

Jorgen Jonsson passed from behind the net to Backstrom, who beat Latvia goaltender Edgars Masalskis before many of Sweden's fans had settled into their seats.

"It felt good to get that early goal," Backstrom said. "Our line didn't play that well in the first game but we're starting to get some good chances and hopefully we can keep it up."

Despite having only one player from the National Hockey League on its roster, Sweden has outscored its first two opponents by a combined 15-3.

Slovakia, the 2002 world champion, scored only once in the opening period when Podhradsky shot a loose puck between Oliver Jonas' pads during a power play.

However, the Slovaks got a boost from new additions Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra, who were all added to the roster Monday.

Gaborik, recovering from a virus, and Hossa, shaking off jet lag, combined for a spectacular goal.

Gaborik stormed down the boards, leapt over a prone German defenseman and fed Hossa. The Atlanta Thrashers forward then rushed the net, faked Jonas with a quick short pass to the left, which Gaborik banged in to make it 4-1.

As they did in a 3-2 win over Germany, Canada once again looked shaky early.

Lars Erik Spets slipped the puck under Carolina Hurricanes' goaltender Cam Ward to open the scoring for Norway at 9:29.

Canada equalized on a power play four minutes later when Rick Nash spun around and sent the puck just inside the right post after Doan stepped on Pal Grotnes' stick, knocking it out of the goalie's hand.

The Canadians gave a small sigh of relief when Nash's Columbus Blue Jackets teammate, Jason Chimera, put Canada ahead 2-1 with a wraparound goal less than two minutes later.

But their respite was not to last.

Canada was unable to convert on a two-man advantage early in the second period and Jonas Andersen knotted the score at 12:14, wristing the puck through Ward's five hole.

But the Canadians stepped up in the final period and Doan scored the winner 22 seconds into the period, his backhander hitting the crossbar and dropping across the goal line. Justin Williams added the insurance on another power play at 9:44.

They will face a much tougher challenge Wednesday against Slovakia to decide the Group C winner.

"There's no weakness there," Canada's head coach Andy Murray said of the Slovaks.

In Group A, Ivo Ruthemann scored Switzerland's second power-play goal of the game with 8:03 remaining, tapping in a rebound to give the Swiss their second win in as many games. Ruthemann's goal came 7½ minutes after Luca Ansoldi had tied the game 1-1.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press