Immonen and Filppula keep Finns flying at world ice hockey championships

Reigning champions Finland regained top spot in their preliminary group at the world ice hockey championships on Tuesday with a solid 5-2 win over Switzerland.

Detroit Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula and forward Jarkko Immonen both scored a brace apiece, with Leo Komarov also on target to make it three wins out of three for the co-hosts.

Switzerland scored both their goals in the second period through Andres Ambuhl and Roman Wick.

Immonen gave Finland an early lead with a powerplay goal 6:30 into the match, firing home a rebound after Janne Niskala's powerful slap shot from the blue line.

Ambuhl leveled at 5:44 into the second period after beating the hosts' defence on a breakaway but Komarov, who won this year's Russian title with Dynamo Moscow, restored Finland's lead just 21sec later.

Immonen then made it 3-1 for the Finns with a backhand shot from just outside the crease at 36:45 but Wick reduced arrears with a powerplay goal with 2:16 remaining.

In the third period Switzerland moved up a gear but could not stop Filppula netting his second within two minutes of the restart.

"It was very tough game, just as we expected," said Finland coach Jukka Jalonen.

"Switzerland played some excellent hockey so it's a big victory for us tonight. Our powerplay did well, scoring twice in the match and (Mikko) Koivu's line was very effective in the deciding moments of the match."

Meanwhile, in Stockholm Russia outscored 2-0 Germany to join co-hosts Sweden on top of their group's table.

Russia dominated play from the start but managed only one goal in the first period, Nikolai Zherdev redirecting Yevgeni Medvedev's slap shot into the net with nine seconds before the break.

Russia continued to test Germany's defence in the second period but squandered a hatful of chances and it took Alexei Tereshenko's powerplay goal halfway through the third before their nerves were steadied.

Semyon Varlamov produced 30 saves to chalk up a shutout.

In the early Helsinki group match Belarus maintained their chances of making the play-off round after battling back from two goals down to beat Kazakhstan 3-2.

Kazakhstan forward Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev netted a pair of goals following schoolboy mistakes from the Belarus defence and goalkeeper Andrei Mezin,

However Konstantin Koltsov, Mikhail Granovsky and Yevgeni Kovyrshin scored one apiece to give Belarus a precious 3-2 win.

"We still have problems in the opening stages of every match at the tournament," lamented Belarus coach Kari Heikkila.

"Even when we prepare the team for a powerful start we allow our opponents too much in the first period and then we have to catch up during the game.

"Luckily, today we managed to respond well in the second period, which was our best part of the match."

In the early Stockholm match another former Soviet Republic, Latvia, boosted their chances of claiming a place in the quarter-finals after blanking Italy 5-0.

Ronalds Kenins, Gints Meija, Oskars Bartulis, Miks Indrasis and Karlis Redlihs were all on target for Latvia, while Edgars Masalskis made 23 saves to claim a shutout and record his team's second consecutive win at the event.


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