Alex the Great scores twice, leads Russia to 8-2 win over Latvia

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VANCOUVER - Alexander Ovechkin is a nightmare for NHL goalies, and it looks like he's not going to be much fun for Olympic netminders either.
Ovechkin and Danis Zaripov each scored twice to lead Russia to a 8-2 win over Latvia in Olympic men's hockey action Tuesday.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Radulov and Alexei Morozov also scored for Russia, while 40-year-old veteran Sergei Fedorov added two assists.
Overall, 15 Russian players had at least one point in a balanced scoring attack that hit the Latvians with goals early and often in just the second ever Olympic meeting between these countries.
"Overall we had a good game," said Ovechkin, who led Russia in scoring at the 2006 Olympics with five goals. "I think we started well and in the third period we just wanted the puck as much as possible."
Herberts Vasiljevs and Girts Ankipans scored third-period goals for Latvia, much to the delight of the pro-Latvian crowd.
Evgeni Nabokov finished with 18 saves for his sixth win in eight starts at the Games dating back to the 2006 Olympics in Turin.
The win moves Russia to the top of Group B, but judging by the faces and comments of the players afterwards, this was hardly a victory they're cherishing.
"It was the first game and no one expects the first game to be perfect," said defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who was paired with Fedor Tyutin on the night.
"You're going to have some errors once and while, it's why you have to look at the video and work hard at practice. We still have another day before the next game, so we're going to make sure we don't have as many mistakes."
Latvia featured 16 players from its own Kontinental Hockey League team, Dinamo Riga, and only two NHLers. They were outmatched on paper and on the ice, but at times showed chemistry. Despite being heavily outplayed for 40 minutes, the Latvians their best hockey to a wild third period that saw five goals scored before the four minute mark.
Gonchar insists that his team didn't take the Latvians for granted, even with a big lead after two periods, but he said his team will be using its minor third period let down as a learning experience.
"We knew what to expect from this team, usually they play hard against us. We've got to compete hard for sixty minutes, that's not an excuse and we have to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Russia was on the board 2:38 into the first period with Fedorov setting up Zaripov for an easy empty net one-timer on Latvian netminder Edgars Masalskis.
Fedorov picked up another assist on Russia's second goal as the rebound off his point shot was corralled by a falling Radulov who put it into the net from his knees.
The first period ended with an Ovechkin goal, set up by Washington Capitals teammate Alexander Semin, to give Russia a commanding 3-0 lead.
A less hectic second period began with sustained pressure from Latvia, but Russia's Nabokov was up for the test.
Malkin scored the lone goal of the second on a power play. Kovalchuk's point shot hit Maxim Afinogenov and bounced to Malkin, who put it in the empty net.
A three-goal third period from Russia cemented the win. Ovechkin, Zaripov and Kovalchuk scored goals with a span of two minutes and five seconds after Latvia finally solved Nabokov 33 seconds into the period.
Russia's eight goals tied Canada for the most scored on the day, and the Russians have only themselves to blame for not producing more offensively. Russia went 1-for-9 on the man advantage, with no goals on three attempts in each of the first two periods.
Kovalchuk, a mainstay on the Russian power play, isn't concerned with the effort on special teams.
"It is only the first game," Kovalchuk said. "But I am sure it will be different in the second game. We have to play desperate."

Organizations: NHL, Kontinental Hockey League, Washington Capitals

Geographic location: Russia, Latvia, VANCOUVER Turin Canada

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  • Jack on the rocks
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    How to go ADN.I know the story is from the CP,but i'm sure between all your staff on a snow day that you might????be able to come up with a headline about IGINLA-3 Goals,Canada wins 8-0.Brilliant reporting.

  • Shawanoswe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    JontrfLT, NS, you are 110% correct. I was really glued to the game against Russia & Latvia, not! I tried to find it but it was not on any local broadcasting I have.

    Even better how about a 3 assist headline about Sidney Crosby, or 17 of 20 players getting points!