Russians put scare into Swedes

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

Had the game been a few minutes longer, there might have been a massive upset in the opener of the Women's World Hockey Championship.

Sweden allowed Russia to score two goals in the final five minutes of the third period yesterday afternoon but held on for the 3-2 win at MTS Centre in front of announced crowd of 3,243.

"It's always like this when we play Russia," Sweden coach Peter Erlander said afterwards. "I think we are the better hockey club, but we don't kill the games enough.

"I was very nervous for the game, and some of the young players were nervous, too."

The Swedes won silver at last year's Olympics and are the closest contender Canada and the U.S. have in women's hockey. Russia, meanwhile, is ranked sixth in the world and has captured only one medal in international play.

"The first game in a tournament is always tough, and Russia is a good defensive team," admitted Sweden forward Pernilla Winberg, who had a goal and an assist. "But we just did our job and won the game."

Nanna Jansson and Winberg gave the Swedes a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, and Erika Holst's tally 2:10 into the third put them up 3-0.

Tatiana Burina got Russia on the board with 4:33 remaining, and Iya Gavrilova, who hit the crossbar and the post in the second period, scored on a two-man advantage with 1:22 to go to cut the deficit to one.

Russia was still on the power play in the final minute and kept the pressure on, but it couldn't beat Swedish netminder Kim Martin, who made 18 saves.

"I'm glad the game was over," Erlander said.

The Swedes meet rival Finland in their second and final preliminary game on tomorrow, and Erlander said his players who were "average" yesterday need to step it up a notch if they're going to be medal contenders.

"To play against Finland, we have to play like the second period," Erlander said. "But to play Canada and the U.S., we have to play our best shifts all the shifts.

"Our goal is to play Canada and U.S. if we get to meet them. First we must play Finland (tomorrow), and that's going to be a tough game."

Irina Gachennikova was solid between the pipes for Russia, making 31 saves.


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