Austria, Slovakia open ice hockey worlds with shootout wins

PRAGUE (AP) Austria and Slovakia needed penalty shootouts to win their opening games at the ice hockey world championships on Saturday.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Marko Dano scored the decisive goal for Slovakia in the shootout to beat Denmark 4-3.

Denmark led 1-0 after two periods before the teams traded five goals in the third. Slovakia took a 3-2 lead on goals from Michal Sersen, Marek Viedensky and Dominik Granak but Daniel Nielsen forced overtime with a goal for Denmark with 2:14 to go in regulation.

”After their goal in the second period we started to play better,” Slovakia coach Vladimir Vujtek said. ”We played some very good hockey from then until the end of the game. We had a lot of chances.”

Slovakia outshot Denmark 43-19.

Konstantin Komarek scored the winner in the shootout to lift newcomer Austria 4-3 over Switzerland.

Switzerland, the 2013 runner-up, took the lead three times through goals from Felicien Du Bois, Andres Ambuhl and Matthias Bieber. But Austria answered each time, and Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl equalized with 50 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

”It’s huge for us,” Raffl said. ”People didn’t give us lot of chances to win against Switzerland. It feels pretty good.”

Austria goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum stopped 34 shots.

Later Saturday, the United States can make it two wins in two games with a victory over Norway while host Czech Republic hopes to rebound from a 6-5 loss to Sweden in a game against Latvia.

In other opening matches, France faces Germany and Belarus plays Slovenia.