Ryan O'Reilly scored a pair of goals and Canada was able to clinch the top spot in the Helsinki group with a 5-1 win over Belarus on Tuesday, making them a tournament favorite heading into the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship quarterfinals, which start Thursday.
O'Reilly opened the scoring just 2:16 into the game, taking a perfect cross-ice pass from Andrew Ladd and wiring a shot past Belarus goaltender Dmitri Milchakov. Canada (6-0-1) appeared posed to close out the tournament preliminary round right then and there, but Sergei Kostitsyn, who joined Belarus (1-6-0) at the tournament with his brother Andrei just days earlier, beat Cam Ward to tie the game.
Canada flipped the switch in the second. Perry scored his third goal of the tournament with Alexei Kalyuzhni in the penalty box for hooking and Getzlaf, who is serving as team captain, doubled the Canada lead by battling through a goalmouth scramble to put the puck into the net.
Belarus began losing its composure shortly after that. Just 46 seconds after Getzlaf's goal, Andrei Kostitsyn rode Evander Kane from behind into the boards, receiving a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct on the play. It didn't take long for Canada to take advantage, as Nugent-Hopkins scored just 39 seconds into the man advantage, setting off a rough exchange that resulted in more penalties, including a 10-minute misconduct to Nikolai Stasenko.
Following a dominating second frame in which they outshot Belarus 13-5, Canada effectively put the game out of reach in the third, when O'Reilly scored his second of the game, firing a perfect snapshot off another feed from Ladd. The Colorado forward's second goal made him the leader of a contingent of five Canadian players who finished the game with two points.
Czech Republic 8, Germany 1
The Czechs secured their place in the tournament quarterfinals with a resounding win over a German team that lost its last two games of the tournament by a combined score of 20-5.
Petr Koukal scored twice for the Czech Republic, which momentarily appeared to be in tough against an upstart Germany squad. After Ales Hemsky opened the scoring just 1:58 into the game, Thomas Greilinger tied things up while Czech defenseman Tomas Mojzis was serving a holding penalty. But the game would get no closer for the Germans, who allowed seven unanswered goals, including four power-play markers and a shorthanded tally by David Krejci.
Czech goaltender Jakub Stepanek made 15 saves, including one on a penalty shot against Christoph Schubert, before being rested in order to give young Petr Mrazek some ice time. Mrazek, who was named top goaltender at the 2012 World Junior Championship, stopped both shots he faced.
Slovakia 5, France 4
Branko Radivojevic finished with three points, including the game-winning goal, as Slovakia clinched a spot in the tournament quarterfinals with a tightly-fought win over France, which made a surprising run in the tournament but will finish out of the playoff round while avoiding relegation.
Radivojevic took over in a tight-checking third, scoring twice, including his game-winner on the power play. A former member of the Coyotes, Flyers, and Wild, Radivojevic finished the preliminary round leading his team with four goals and tied with Andrej Sekera for the team lead with seven points.
Slovakia took control early, with Milan Bartovic beating French goaltender Cristobal Huet 2:36 into the game. Tomas Kopecky doubled the lead minutes later while both teams played 4-on-4 following penalties to Michal Sersen and Laurent Meuniers, but Yorick Treille replied just 21 seconds later. With five minutes remaining in a wide-open first period, Teddy da Costa scored to tie the game.
While the teams combined for 24 shots in a wild second, they could only muster one goal each, with Damien Fleury tying the game 3-3 with 39 seconds remaining in the period.
Norway 6, Denmark 2
Patrick Thoresen continued his blazing scoring pace, scoring once and adding three assists as he led Norway into the tournament playoff round with a 6-2 win over Denmark.
With his four points, Thoresen finished the preliminary round with six goals and eight assists, vaulting him ahead of Evgeni Malkin's 14 points for the tournament scoring lead. The KHL veteran, who has previously played with the Oilers and Flyers, finished the preliminary round with 14 points in his last four games.
Following a scoreless first period in which each team successfully killed off a single two-minute minor penalty, Norway came out firing in the second. Lars Erik Spets, Morten Ask, and Per-Afe Skroder scored in a 9:23 span that saw the Norwegians wrestle the game away from Denmark.
That scoring binge inspired some undisciplined play from the Danes, whose tournament was already over heading into the game. A rough confrontation less than two minutes after Skroder made it 3-0 led to 35 minutes in penalties being handed out, including a game misconduct to Jannik Hansen.
Norway put the game completely out of reach on the ensuing power play, scoring twice, including Thoresen's sixth of the tournament with 21 seconds left in the second. Denmark would gain some measure of redemption by scoring two goals to open the third, but things continued to get rough on the ice when Mats Trygg scored the final goal of the game. Just minutes after Trygg's marker, Lars Eller and Norwegian captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen had an exchange that resulted in both players receiving game misconducts.
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