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20TH WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES

Russia Routs Latvia, 9-2, as Kovalchuk Scores Four

February 20, 2006|From the Associated Press

TURIN, Italy — Ilya Kovalchuk scored four goals and Russia stormed into the Olympic men's hockey quarterfinals with a dominating 9-2 victory over Latvia on Sunday.

After dropping the opener to Slovakia, 5-3, Russia has won three straight by a combined score of 15-2.

"I don't think we've played our best hockey yet," Kovalchuk said.

Evgeni Nabokov, who posted consecutive shutout victories over Sweden and Kazakhstan on 48 saves, was touched for a goal but improved on his perfect record despite facing only seven shots in two periods. The San Jose Shark goalie was replaced by Maxim Sokolov to start the third.

Russia's victory put the eight-time Olympic champions into the quarterfinals.

Arturs Irbe took the brunt of the attack from Russia, giving up five goals on 17 shots.

Alexei Yashin, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin scored third-period goals for the Russians, who had a 39-11 advantage in shots despite missing injured King forward Alexander Frolov.

Slovakia 2, Kazakhstan 1 -- Pavol Demitra's rush into the Kazakhstan zone set up Marian Hossa's go-ahead goal in the third period and the unbeaten Slovaks did just enough to win.

Kazakhstan led, 1-0, until Peter Bondra scored on a power play with 10 seconds remaining in the second period.

Czech Republic 4, Italy 1 -- Vaclav Prospal scored three goals as the Czechs clinched a spot in the medal round as the team welcomed back Jaromir Jagr from injury.

Jagr was on the ice -- with nine stitches in his forehead and above his left ear -- one day after Finland's Jarkko Ruutu hit him with an elbow, slamming him into the boards.

Germany 2, Switzerland 2 -- Tino Boos scored the tying goal in the third period and the Germans, ranked below the Swiss in the world rankings, pulled off a surprise tie that followed Switzerland's upsets of gold medal favorite Canada and world champion Czech Republic.

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