COLOGNE, Germany - Defending champion Russia beat Belarus 3-1 to sweep its three group matches at the world ice hockey championship.
Alex Ovechkin scored his third goal of the tournament Thursday, and Sergei Mozyakin and Artyom Anisimov added goals as Russia took a 3-0 after 35 minutes. Goalie Semyon Varlamov saved 19 shots in his first action for Russia.
"It's positive and we've got the job done in the three first games," Russia forward Sergei Federov said. "There's no time to relax, we will face a lot of good teams and we have to concentrate on doing our things much better every day."
Alexei Kalyuzhny scored in the final period for Belarus.
Slovakia secured second place in Group A with a 5-1 win over Kazakhstan. Ivan Ciernik, playing in his Cologne Sharks home arena, scored twice for Slovakia.
In Group C, Sweden lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic, but won the group. Combined with Norway's 5-1 over France, the result gave Sweden, the Czechs and Norway spots in the second round.
Sweden took first place in the group with the best goal differential in head-to-head games, and the Czechs were second.
France lost all three games and will face the United States, Italy and Kazakhstan against relegation.