Ice Hockey - Russia thrash Latvia, U.S. and Canada win

Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk scored one goal and made another as the defending champions hammered Latvia 6-0 in their opening group game of the ice hockey world championship in Stockholm.

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Ice hockey generic (Reuters)

The Russians were ruthless in disposing of the Latvian challenge, scoring three goals in the second period to take a 4-0 lead.

Two further goals in the final period put the champions out of sight and into second place behind Finland with a game in hand.

Finnish goalkeeper Antti Raanta registered a shutout on his international debut as the co-hosts beat a strong Slovakia side 2-0 in Helsinki to top their group on five points after two games.

"I couldn't have wished for any more," Raanta told Finnish TV. "The guys did a great job in front of goal. We improved our play in the second period and Slovakia didn't get any more good chances."

Co-hosts Sweden recovered from an embarrassing 3-2 loss to Switzerland in their opening game as they squeezed out Czech Republic 2-1 in the late game in Stockholm

Canada and the United States got off to winning starts in their group games.

The Canadians came back from a goal down to beat Denmark 3-1 in Stockholm, while two goals from Erik Johnson helped a jittery U.S. side overcome Austria 5-3 in Helsinki.

In the day's other game in Stockholm, Norway took the lead after a minute against Slovenia and never looked back, running out 3-1 winners to join Canada at the top of the group.

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