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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Denmark, Belarus Advance at Worlds

ReutersRussian players huddling before their ice hockey World Championship preliminary round match against Ukraine in Moscow on Sunday. Team Russia has made a promising start to the tournament, defeating Denmark 9-1 on Friday and Ukraine 8-1. It played Finland,
Denmark beat Ukraine 4-3 to record its first win and qualify for the second round, and Belarus beat Austria 5-2 to secure a place in the qualification round at the ice hockey World Championship on Tuesday.

In a battle of two lesser teams in Group D, the Danes took a 4-2 lead after two periods, but Roman Salnikov gave Ukraine some hope when he caught Danish goalie Peter Hirsch off guard with a slap shot from the blue line midway through the final period.

The Ukrainians applied the pressure in the final minutes but the Danes held on for victory to the delight of their small but vocal contingent at Moscow's Khodynka Arena.

Kim Staal led the Danes with a pair while Kirill Starkov and Rasmus Pander added a goal each.

Olexander Materukhin and Olexander Matviichuk also scored for the Ukrainians, who slumped to their third straight defeat and will now play in the relegation group, trying to avoid being dropped from the elite echelon next year.

Austria and Belarus entered their final preliminary round contest searching for a first victory, with the winner taking third spot in Group B and advancing while the loser dropped into the relegation battle.

Belarus jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Andrei Glebov and Dimitri Dudik before Austria hit back with a pair of powerplay tallies from Andre Lakos at the end of the first period and start of the second to level the score.

But less than three minutes later, Belarus went in front to stay with goals from Aleksei Ugarov and Oleg Antonenko, with his fourth of the tournament.

Aleksandr Kulakov had the third period's only goal to seal the Belarus win.

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

In Mytishchi, 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 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.

Despite having only one NHL player 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.

The Slovaks, however, 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 and faked Jonas with a quick short pass to the left, which Gaborik banged in to make it 4-1.

AP, Reuters