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Monday, January 2, 2012
Russia tops Czech Republic at juniors

Associated Press

CALGARY, Alberta -- Grigori Zheldakov scored at 1:30 of overtime to lead Russia to a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in a quarterfinal at the world junior hockey championship Monday.

Zheldakov took a pass from Nikita Kucherov and sent a slap shot past Czech goalie Petr Mrazek to earn the Russians a berth in Tuesday night's semifinal against Canada.

Danil Apalkov scored in regulation for Russia, while goalie Andrei Vasilevski made 38 saves for the victory.

Jakub Culek scored in the first period for the Czech Republic, which will play Slovakia in the fifth-place game on Wednesday.

In the other quarterfinal, Finland defeated Slovakia 8-5 and will face Sweden in the other semifinal.

In relegation-round action, Switzerland edged Denmark 4-3 in overtime.

Mrazek stopped 43 of 45 shots he faced in the Czech net and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 16,581.

After starting the tournament with three straight wins -- 3-0 over Switzerland, 3-1 over Slovakia and 14-0 over Latvia -- Russia gave up a three-goal lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to Sweden on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic started off with a 7-0 win over Denmark before losing 5-0 to Canada. The Czechs then stunned the United States with a 5-2 win before a 4-0 loss to Finland in its final preliminary-round game.

The Russians outshot the Czechs 16-5 in the first period, but couldn't find a way to beat Mrazek.

Mikael and Markus Granlund used their offensive skills to lead Finland to an 8-5 win over Slovakia.

If they hope to beat Sweden in the semifinals, the brothers agreed Finland has to play better in both zones.

"We need to play better defensively," said Mikael Granlund, who had a goal and three assists in the win over Slovakia. "Five goals are too much."

Markus Granlund, who scored twice and had an assist, agreed with his older brother.

"Sweden has a very good team," said the 18-year-old forward, a second-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2011 draft. "I think we have (to play) defense better and play harder and skate more."

Teemu Pulkkinen had a goal and an assist for Finland, while Joel Armia, Roope Hamalainen, Alexsander Barkov and Joonas Donskoi also scored.

Barkov (16 years, 4 months) is the youngest player to score in tournament history, beating Canada's Sidney Crosby by 21 days.

Richard Mraz had a goal and two assists while Matus Chovan and Marko Dano each had a goal and an assist for Slovakia. Marek Tverdon and Martin Daloga also scored.

Sami Aittokallio made 24 saves for Finland, while Juraj Simboch stopped 30 shots for Slovakia.