Russia beats Finland winning groups at Hockey Worlds

Petr Schastlivy scored the winner midway through the third period Tuesday and Russia held on for a 5-4 win over Finland at the ice hockey World Championship.

In Mytischi, Jaroslav Bednar scored the winning goal with 1:08 remaining to give the Czech Republic a 4-3 victory over the United States and top spot in the Group B standings.

In other games, Belarus beat Austria 5-2 in Group B and Denmark downed Ukraine 4-3 in Group D to send both teams to the qualifying round.

After a turnover in the neutral zone, Russian defender Denis Grebeshkov fed Schastlivyy and the Russian captain beat Finland goaltender Fredrik Norrena with a wrist shot low on the stick side at 12:21 of the third period to give the hosts a 5-3 lead.

Russia took a 4-1 lead into the third period of the Group D game but the Finns rallied on goals by Jukka Hentunen and Jere Lehtinen and pulled within a goal for the final time when Petteri Nummelin converted on a power play at 14:09.

Lehtinen, added to Finland's roster for Tuesday's game, tapped a rebound past goalie Vasili Koshechkin at 8:53 of the third to cut Russia's lead to 4-3.

"We let them get back into it with some penalties," Russian defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "But we knew if we stuck to our game plan we'd be OK and most of the play in the last half of the period was in their end."

With Russian hockey great Boris Mikhailov among the capacity crowd, Russia looked set for an easy win with two goals in the first six minutes of the second period that gave Vyacheslav Bykov's team a three-goal cushion.

Ilya Kovalchuk threaded a cross-ice pass to Gonchar, who beat Norrena with a blast from the faceoff circle to make it 3-1 at 3:49.

"Ilya made a great pass," Gonchar said. "Their goalie didn't have a chance to move across the crease and I had a wide-open net."

Russia is bidding for its first world title since 1993. Finland last won the tournament in 1995.

Along with Mikhailov, who led the Soviet Union to eight world titles from 1969 to 1979, former greats Vladislav Tretiak and Vyacheslav Fetisov also were in attendance.

Both teams already had advanced to the qualifying round. Russia improved to 3-0 while Finland dropped to 2-1.

Bednar provided the heroics for the Czech Republic with overtime approaching, the AP reports.

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Author`s name Alex Naumov