Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Evgeni Malkin had a goal and two assists as Russia beat Slovenia by a 5-2 margin in the opening game of group play for both teams in the men's ice hockey tournament.
Alex Ovechkin added a goal and an assist for the home team in an electric atmosphere on Thursday. Ilya Kovalchuk, Valeri Nichushkin and Anton Belov also lit the lamp.
Semyon Varlamov made 12 saves for Russia, which plays the United States on Saturday in one of the most highly anticipated preliminary-round games. The winner will have a great chance to take first place in Group A.
Ziga Jeglic scored the first two goals for Slovenia in Olympic play. Robert Kristan stopped 30-of-35 shots.
Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar is the only NHL player on the roster for Slovenia, which will face Slovakia on Saturday.
The Russians took a 1-0 lead at 1:17 of the first period when Ovechkin scored from the left circle.
Just over two minutes later, Malkin took a pass from Ovechkin and beat Kristan to make it 2-0.
Jeglic got the Slovenians on the board 1:43 into the middle stanza when he lit the lamp from the high slot.
Kovalchuk gave the Russians a two-goal lead again with 2:12 remaining in the second. Malkin controlled the puck behind the net before sliding a pass to Kovalchuk in front.
Jeglic scored his second goal over a minute later as he took a pass from Robert Sabolic, got past a pair of Russian defenders and beat Varlamov.
Nichushkin gave the Russians some breathing room at 3:59 of the third. He carried the puck down the right side and fought off a defender before guiding the puck past Kristan.
Belov's blast from the left point made it a 5-2 game.