NAGANO, Japan (AP) _ Slovakia, expected to be the best team in its preliminary pool, settled for a surprising 2-2 tie with Austria as the men's Olympic hockey tournament began Saturday.

Slovakia, which finished sixth in the 1994 Olympics, played without NHL stars Peter Bondra and Zigmund Palffy, who will join the team for the final round if it advances out of preliminary play.

Slovakia had three solid scoring chances in the third period, including two shots that hit the post. Zdenko Ciger, who scored in the second period, was stopped on a point-blank shot by Austrian goaltender Claus Dalpiaz with three minutes remaining. Slovakia outshot the Austrians, 38-13.

A predominantly Japanese crowd of 4,315 spectators, many of whom sat quietly during play, watched the first Olympic game played at Aqua Wing arena, so named because its design resembles a wing floating down from the sky.

Ciger and Robert Petrovicky scored in the second period to help Slovakia overcome a two-goal deficit against the Austrians, who finished last among 12 teams in the 1994 Olympics.

The Austrians scored on a power-play goal by Dominik Lavoie in the first period despite being outshot 17-3. Christian Perthaler scored on a rebound early in the second period to make it 2-0.

Ciger beat Dalpiaz on a breakaway and Petrovicky deflected a shot in on the power play to tie the game 2-2 at 13:52 of the second.