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Semin, Russia rout Slovakia in world championship

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Semin, Russia rout Slovakia in world championship

HELSINKI (AP) -- Russia won the world championship Sunday by defeating Slovakia 6-2.

Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals scored two goals and had an assist in the rout. Russia scored three times in the second period to take control.

Alexander Perezhogin, Alexei Tereshenko, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and tournament MVP Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored the other goals, with Datsyuk and Alexander Ovechkin of the Capitals assisting on two.

Slovakia defender Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins scored both of his nation's goals, one on a blast from the blue line, the other from close range.

Russia, the champion in 2008 and 2009, returned to the title after finishing fourth last year. It did not lose in 10 games and finished the tournament with a plus-30 goal difference.

"We are the Big Red Machine just now," defenseman Nikolai Kulemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs said. "But without Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk it would be very hard to score all those goals. And Evgeni Malkin, what can you say? He's the best player in the world, for sure."

Malkin led in goals with 11 and points with 19, and led the plus-minus ratings at plus-14, along with teammate Perezhogin.

Datsyuk was another top performer who glued together his colleagues to play cohesively. He talked positively about his prized teammate Malkin.

"He was unbelievable all the way, and deserves all the credit he got. I am happy to play with him again," Datsyuk said.

Topped with seasoned stars who seemed hungry and happy, Russia put on a tremendous final show of skating speed, passing technique and imagination. It was a performance oozing self-confidence.

"I had to remind the team that Slovakia is really good, and that they beat the Czechs and Canada. I'm grateful to my team as they played well, not only in this final but in the whole tournament," coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said.

Malkin, Datsyuk, Ovechkin and Semin did not disappoint anybody. But the play of Alexander Popov, 30, centering Malkin and dangerous winger Perezhogin was sensational, and on the third line Alexei Tereshenko's swiftness stood out.

In its own zone, Russia played a very tight five-man block, with players almost stuck to each other, but moving around as a unit. On offense the players spread to open up spaces, and then again came together to finish off the attack.

Russia did not rely on big names in goal, but Semyon Varlamov, of the Colorado Avalanche took individual honors with a 93.93 save percentage and 1.70 goals-against average. In the final he had 29 saves, while Slovakia's Jan Laco and Peter Hamerlik combined for 36.

The Russian team might be built with an eye on the Olympics in Sochi in 2014, and Datsyuk was asked about the NHL possibly deciding not to let its players compete.

"That is two years from now, and I cannot say anything about something so far away as I don't even know what happens tomorrow. It is hard to say something about Sochi now," Datsyuk said.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.