Updated: Friday, 14 February 2014 01:20 | By Agence France-Presse

Russia survive Slovenia scare in ice hockey opener

Russian star Alex Ovechkin scored with his first shot of the Sochi Olympics as the hosts survived a scare to beat Slovenia 5-2 in their ice hockey opener on Thursday. 


Russia survive Slovenia scare in ice hockey opener

Russia's Alexei Tereshchenko slips into the net during the Men's Ice Hockey Group A match between Russia and Slovenia during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 13, 2014 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome - by Bruce Bennett

In other preliminary round action, the United States -- beaten finalists at the 2010 Vancouver Games -- scored six goals in the second period as they thumped hapless Slovakia 7-1.

Following an embarrassing 7-3 quarter-final loss to Canada in 2010, Russia are determined to stamp their authority on the competition on home ice. 

After racing into a 2-0 lead, they conceded twice in the second period while scoring once themselves, starting the third period with a slender 3-2 lead before adding two more goals.

"We started well and got the lead but then we stopped playing," Ovechkin said. "We tried to make casual moves and when we had a chance to shoot the puck we didn't do it.

"We tried to play too beautiful for our fans. We gave them some life, but then we responded and scored another."

Ovechkin said the team tried to get too fancy with the puck in the second period, thinking they could rest comfortably on their two-goal lead.

"It is good to get this kind of lesson," he said. "When you get a 2-0 lead you feel like the game is going to be easy and we stopped playing. 

"We stopped shooting the puck and we tried to find our partners." 

Ovechkin scored after 77 seconds and also provided an assist for Evgeny Malkin's goal a few minutes later as the Russians took control in front of a crowd of more than 11,000 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome arena.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Valeri Nichushkin and Anton Belov also scored for the Russians, who are gold medal contenders in Sochi alongside Canada, Sweden and the United States.

Slovenia -- who have never before competed in an Olympic ice hockey tournament -- scored their two goals through  Ziga Jeglic.

"It is phenomenal. Tomorrow it is going to be better when I realise it is a great moment in my hockey career," Jeglic said.

Slovenia's goaltender Robert Kristan was superb, making 30 saves.

"In the first period they were all over us but our goalie played really good," Jeglic said. "At the end of the first period in the locker room we said we have nothing to lose. We just had to stick to our system."

The hosts, bidding to become the first Russian team to win Olympic gold since the fall of the Soviet Union, face Group A rivals the United States on Saturday while Slovenia take on Slovakia.

Paul Stastny scored twice for the USA in their opener at the Shyaba Arena.

Olli Maatta and Jarkko Immonen scored eight seconds apart late in the first period as Finland beat Austria 8-4.

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