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U.S. Beats Denmark 3-0 at Hockey Worlds

May 7, 2006

RIGA, Latvia (AP) _ The United States beat winless Denmark 3-0 Sunday behind goals from Andrew Alberts, Yan Stastny and Richard Park to close in on a second-round berth at the hockey world championships.

It was the second win for the Americans, who finish Group D play against Canada on Tuesday. Canada faced Norway in the other Group D game later Sunday.

The Czech Republic held on for a 5-4 win over Slovenia after taking a 4-0 first-period lead.

Coming off a 1-1 tie with host Latvia in its opening Group A game, the favored Czechs were looking for a win and three points in the standings against Slovenia.

The U.S. win avenged a startling loss in the prelims to Denmark three years ago when the championship was held in Finland.

U.S. goalie Craig Anderson, a backup with the Chicago Blackhawks this season, made 19 saves for his first shutout in the tournament. He gave up one goal in the opener against Norway.

``It was definitely an easy night,″ Anderson said. ``I only had to make the first save, any rebound the defense cleared up and made great plays. We really played well together as a team tonight. So far it has worked fine for us in two games and we’re going to try to do the same in the next game.″

Park, the United States captain, praised Anderson.

``Goaltending has been our biggest strength in this tournament,″ Park said. ``We’ll try to give him the outside shots and clear the rebounds.″

Canada, of course, will be much tougher for the Americans.

``It’s going to be an all-around effort,″ Anderson said. ``With this big ice, there are going to be a lot of chances offensively. But it’s going to be a little more physical against Canada. Even with the bigger ice surface, I think it’s going to come down to defense and whoever makes more mistakes are going to lose.″

Dustin Brown, who had a hat trick against Norway, set up the opening goal for Alberts 33 seconds into the second period. Five minutes later, Stastny made it 2-0, knocking in a rebound past goalie Peter Hirsch.

Park notched the last goal midway through the third period. After Hirsch failed to clear the puck at his own end, Andy Hilbert picked up the loose puck along the boards and fed the unchecked Park in front.

``Our emotions were a little lower compared to the first game,″ Park said. ``This was a big challenge and I think we responded really well. Now we’ll have to regroup and get ready for Canada.

``Obviously Canada will be our toughest challenge to date. For us that’s our biggest rivalry and it’ll be a good measuring stick.″

Tomas Pleskanec scored 1:09 into the game, and power play goals from Jaroslav Balastik, Martin Erat and Zbynek Michalek gave the Czechs a 4-0 lead.

But Slovenia, which played well in defeat in its opening 5-3 loss to Finland, clawed its way back to 4-2 on goals by Egon Muric and Mitja Sotlar.

Michalek’s second of the game at 4:28 of the second period ended up being the game-winner, but the win was far from comfortable for the Czechs.

Slovenia forward Ales Kranjs scored late in the second period and forward Tomas Razingar’s power play goal cut the lead to 5-4 with one second left in the game.

The Czechs have four points after two Group A games, while Slovenia, with two losses, sits at the bottom of group. The Czechs play Finland and Slovenia faces Latvia on Tuesday.

___

Associated Press writer Timothy Jacobs contributed to this report.

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