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Last but not least, Russia defeats Latvia, 8-2

February 16, 2010 | 11:59 pm

Russia2 In the nightcap of the tripleheader Tuesday at Canada Hockey Place, Russia got two goals from Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin and two from KHL forward Danis Zaripov to defeat Latvia, 8-2, in their Group B opener.

Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins had a goal and an assist, as did Ilya Kovalchuk, recently traded from the Atlanta Thrashers to the New Jersey Devils.

Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who had an assist, said the Russians got more comfortable as the game progressed. "Lots of score today. The first game is always a little bit nervous. I'm happy to win," he said. 

Russia, winner of the last two world championships, has been widely mentioned as a favorite to win gold here. Datsyuk, however, isn't taking anything for granted.

"I appreciate but in a short tournament with lots of good teams, you never know," he said.

On Wednesday, the six teams that haven't played yet will make their debuts in another tripleheader. Finland will face Belarus at noon Pacific time, followed by Sweden versus Germany and the Czech Republic against Slovakia.

-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Russia's Alexander Ovechkin, left, collides with Latvia's Arvids Rekis during the first period on Tuesday. Credit: Ric Ernst / MCT