U.S. tops Austria in opener

Updated: April 30, 2011, 6:05 PM ET
Associated Press

KOSICE, Slovakia -- Chris Kreider started the scoring and the United States cruised to a 5-1 victory over Austria in its opening game at the world ice hockey championship Saturday.

Kreider sped past Austrian captain Gerhard Unterluggauer to convert the Americans' first goal of the tournament 14:42 into the game. Blake Wheeler added a goal 2:33 later, scoring with an angled shot after Derek Stepan's quick pass caught Austria's goalie flat-footed.

"It was the way we wanted to start," said Stepan, who had two assists. "We wanted to make sure that we play hard, play a solid game for 60 minutes."

Austria replied with Marco Pewal's shot over goalie Al Montoya's shoulder, but Yan Stastny restored the two-goal advantage later in the second period. Kevin Shattenkirk and Craig Smith each scored in the third for the young American team, which outshot Austria 32-13.

"They had a very good game. We made too many mistakes and they capitalized on them," Austrian coach Bill Gilligan said.

In the other games, Martin Havlat scored a goal and added an assist to help defending champion Czech Republic rally for a 3-2 win over Latvia at their opening match at the worlds. Also in Kosice, Norway upset Sweden 5-4 in the penalty shootout.

In Bratislava, Finland beat Denmark 5-1 to avenge an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Danes in the group stage of last year's worlds.

The U.S. next plays Norway on Monday.

"I hope I can find a way to find the net," said Stepan, who is coming off a rookie NHL season in which he scored 21 goals for the New York Rangers. "We have a good team, we're confident we just have to keep playing and take it game by game."

It was an emotional return for Stastny to the homeland of his father, NHL legend Peter Stastny, who was watching the game at Steel Arena.

"It is a very special event for me," Stastny said in Slovak. "Every day here is great for me and my family.

"It was a goal for the team. Our line did what we could. We put them under pressure, it was fine, though I think we still can play better."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE