Hornqvist scores twice as Sweden holds out Belarus

Updated: May 7, 2008, 7:46 PM ET
Associated Press

QUEBEC CITY -- Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Sweden fended off Belarus 6-5 in an opening preliminary round game of the world championships on Saturday.

Rickard Wallin deflected Nils Ekman's shot at 10:32 of the third period for the winner. Defenseman Magnus Johansson and forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Robert Nilsson, all in the NHL this past season, also had a goal apiece.

"Scoring six goals is not bad, but obviously we have to have better defensive play to compete against better teams," Wallin said.

Backstrom and Nilsson, both NHL rookies last season, each added an assist.

Viktor Kostyuchenok, Sergei Zadelenov, Alexei Ugarov and Aleksandr Zhurik and Dimtry Meleshko scored for Belarus.

Many of Sweden's star players aren't at the world championships this year. The Swedes are without the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, Markus Naslund, Peter Forsberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Mats Sundin, and numerous Detroit Red Wings and others still in the NHL playoffs.

What the Swedes lack in star power they make up for with international experience and seven NHL players. Belarus had no NHL players on its roster Saturday.

Ruslan Salei of the Colorado Avalanche should help the Belarus defense starting Monday against Switzerland according to coach Curt Fraser.

"Unfortunately for us, when you score five goals, you'd better win the game," Fraser said. "I thought our team as a whole played a very good game."

Sweden outshot Belarus 46-24.

The other Group A game has Switzerland facing France.

In a Group C opener in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mikko Koivu scored twice in leading Finland to a 5-1 win over Germany. Finland took the lead in the second period when Koivu scored off Tuomo Ruutu's backhand pass in front of Germany's net.

Finland later capitalized on a power play when Olli Jokinen sent a slap shot past a defenseless Dmitri Patzold making it 2-0. It was his first goal of the tournament and the game-winner. Koivu added a third-period goal and Hannes Hyvonen and Teemu Selanne also scored for Finland. Florian Busch had a power-play goal for Germany.

The other Group C game has Slovakia facing Norway.

The Americans will return to action Sunday night against Slovenia. Defending champion Canada will face Latvia on Sunday. The tournament is being played in Canada for the first time.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE