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Kiprusoff Leads Finns In Opener

Tuesday, August 31, 2004; Page D02

Miikka Kiprusoff needed to stop just 12 shots for an easy shutout, and four Finland players scored in a 4-0 win over the Czech Republic in the World Cup of Hockey opener yesterday in Helsinki.

Saku Koivu, of the Montreal Canadiens, and Niko Kapanen, of the Dallas Stars, both scored for Finland. Jukka Hentunen, who plays in Switzerland, and Mikko Eloranta, one of only two players on the team who plays in the Finnish League, also added a goal each.

Finland's Saku Koivu, above, exults after scoring against the Czech Republic. "There was not much work to do, but a few times they broke in to the goal," Miikka Kiprusoff said. (Alexander Demianchuk -- Reuters)

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Finland out-shot the Czech Republic 34-12.

"It was important to get the right feeling," said Kiprusoff, who helped lead the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup finals last season.

"There was not much work to do, but a few times they broke in to the goal from the corners creating danger. I knew beforehand how the Czechs play; they don't fire that fast, rather they want to hold on to the puck."

Meantime, veteran defenseman Chris Chelios was selected to be captain of the U.S. team for the World Cup tournament.

Chelios, 42, also was captain of the U.S. team at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, as well as at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

The United States plays its first game of the World Cup tournament today against Canada in Montreal.

-- From News Services

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