MOSCOW, December 14 (R-Sport) - Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin scored as Russia came back from a goal down to beat Sweden 5-1 in the opening match of the Euro Hockey Tour’s Russian stage.
In Thursday’s other Channel One Cup match, Finland joined world champions Russia at the top of the table after scraping a 3-2 win over the Czech Repulic.
A Russia team packed with eight NHL stars went a goal down to Sweden inside 10 minutes when Niklas Danielsson struck on a power-play as the hosts struggled to convert their chances.
A four-goal blitz in the second period left Russia in charge, as first Evgeny Medvedev found the target, before two goals in the space of a minute from Sergei Mozyakin and Ovechkin, with Alexander Radulov adding a goal of his own in the 35th minute.
One minute into the third period, Mozyakin scored again to stretch Russia’s lead.
“In some way our emotions were just too much,” Russia coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said of his team’s nervous start.
“I am satisfied, but we still have to work a lot and correct our game. Not everything worked out for us, but everyone had the desire to play for the team, and that’s very important.”
Sweden coach Par Marts decided against recruiting many NHL stars, but did pick Nicklas Backstrom, currently playing alongside his NHL teammate Ovechkin at their KHL lockout team Dynamo Moscow.
The weakened team was a factor in the defeat, Marts suggested.
“It’ll practically be a new team at the  Olympic Games,” he said.
“The only thing may be that Nicklas Backstrom gets into that team. But you can’t name anyone else from this team yet.”
In the other game in Moscow, Teemu Ramstedt’s 54th-minute goal proved crucial for Finland as the Czechs suffered their first defeat of the season on the Euro Hockey Tour.
On Saturday, Russia plays the Czech Republic, while Finland and Sweden face off.