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Backstrom lifts Swedes; Canada survives Norway

MOSCOW -- Nicklas Backstrom scored 29 seconds after the
opening faceoff and Sweden went on to an 8-2 win over Latvia on
Monday and claim a place in the qualifying round of the hockey
world championships.

In Mytischi, Shane Doan converted on a power play early in the
third to complete Canada's rally and help it survive a second scare
in as many games, beating Norway 4-2 in Group C.

Also in Group C, Peter Podhradsky scored twice to lead Slovakia
to a 5-1 win over Germany and a place in the qualifying round,
while Switzerland joined Sweden in advancing out of Group A with a
2-1 victory over Italy.

Backstrom was one of eight players to score for the defending
world and Olympic champion, which improved to 2-0.

Jorgen Jonsson passed from behind the net to Backstrom, who beat
Latvia goaltender Edgars Masalskis before many of Sweden's fans had
settled into their seats.

"It felt good to get that early goal," Backstrom said. "Our
line didn't play that well in the first game but we're starting to
get some good chances and hopefully we can keep it up."

Despite having only one player from the National Hockey League
on its roster, Sweden has outscored its first two opponents by a
combined 15-3.

Slovakia, the 2002 world champion, scored only once in the
opening period when Podhradsky shot a loose puck between Oliver
Jonas' pads during a power play.

However, the Slovaks got a boost from new additions Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra, who were all added to the
roster Monday.

Gaborik, recovering from a virus, and Hossa, shaking off jet
lag, combined for a spectacular goal.

Gaborik stormed down the boards, leapt over a prone German
defenseman and fed Hossa. The Atlanta Thrashers forward then rushed
the net, faked Jonas with a quick short pass to the left, which
Gaborik banged in to make it 4-1.

As they did in a 3-2 win over Germany, Canada once again looked
shaky early.

Lars Erik Spets slipped the puck under Carolina Hurricanes'
goaltender Cam Ward to open the scoring for Norway at 9:29.

Canada equalized on a power play four minutes later when Rick Nash
spun around and sent the puck just inside the right post after Doan
stepped on Pal Grotnes' stick, knocking it out of the goalie's
hand.

The Canadians gave a small sigh of relief when Nash's Columbus
Blue Jackets teammate, Jason Chimera, put Canada ahead 2-1 with a
wraparound goal less than two minutes later.

But their respite was not to last.

Canada was unable to convert on a two-man advantage early in the
second period and Jonas Andersen knotted the score at 12:14,
wristing the puck through Ward's five hole.

But the Canadians stepped up in the final period and Doan scored
the winner 22 seconds into the period, his backhander hitting the
crossbar and dropping across the goal line. Justin Williams added
the insurance on another power play at 9:44.

They will face a much tougher challenge Wednesday against
Slovakia to decide the Group C winner.

"There's no weakness there," Canada's head coach Andy Murray
said of the Slovaks.

In Group A, Ivo Ruthemann scored Switzerland's second power-play
goal of the game with 8:03 remaining, tapping in a rebound to give
the Swiss their second win in as many games. Ruthemann's goal came
7 minutes after Luca Ansoldi had tied the game 1-1.