- Language Tips
Russia's Alexei Tereshenko (right) tries to score past France's Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (left) and goalie Florian Hardy during their 2013 IIHF world championship preliminary-round match in Helsinki on Thursday. Grigory Dukor / Reuters
Defending world champion Russia lost to France 2-1 on Thursday in one of the biggest upsets in ice hockey history.
A team stacked with NHL and KHL players bowed to a group of mainly French league players who ended Russia's 13-match winning streak at the world championship.
"It's so big for French hockey it's hard to describe," France coach Dave Henderson said.
Winless Latvia also upended 2012 runner-up Slovakia 5-3.
In Stockholm, Canada outclassed Sweden 3-0, with goals from Steven Stamkos, Luke Schenn and Jordan Staal, and Matt Read picking up two assists. Mike Smith made 33 saves for the shutout, 17 in the last period when Canada's intensity dropped.
France wasn't good enough to play Russia or the Soviet Union until 1992, and had lost all six previous games, the last by 7-2 in 2009.
All the goals on Thursday were scored in the middle period. Alexander Perezhogin gave Russia the lead at 6:57, shortly after teammate Aleksandr Radulov missed a penalty shot. France forward Damien Fleury evened the score at 9:52 with a slap shot. Antoine Roussel, France's lone NHL player, scored the winner at 16:48 when he broke in from the left and backhanded through Vasili Koshechkin's legs.
Both teams fielded their third-string goalkeepers. France's Florian Hardy finished with 28 saves, and Koshechkin 17.
"It was my first start, an unbelievably good result for us," Hardy said. "I don't know what to say, I'm so happy. When I watched the clock with five minutes to play, I thought that this is for real, that it is possible to win."
"All the team played an unbelievable game defensively. When the Russian player took the penalty shot and I stopped it, I just followed the puck and that was it."
France's second win in four games gives it a good chance of staying in the premier group at the worlds, and an outside chance of making the quarterfinals with a top-four finish in its group. It still has to play the United States, Latvia and Germany.
For Canada, Smith starred in goal in only his second world championship game.
The top line of Stamkos, Claude Giroux and Andrew Ladd also played well. Stamkos one-timed a pass for the first, power-play goal, assisted by defenders Brian Campbell and Justin Schultz.
A third defender, Schenn, scored early in the middle period, and Staal made it 3-0 later in the same period.
"These guys (the Canadians) play against the world's best every day when they are working, and our guys don't do that. That is why it can look like this," Sweden coach Per Marts said.
Sweden lost two players to injuries during the game.
(China Daily 05/11/2013 page15)