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Team USA Takes Top Seed In Group A

Squad will face Finland in quarterfinals

by Ryan Boulding @rboulding /
USA (5) vs. RUSSIA (3)

In the battle for the top spot in Group A, it was the Americans that skated away with the win, topping Russia 5-3 at LANXESS Arena in Cologne, Germany, on Tuesday in the final preliminary game of the 2017 IIHF World Championship for both squads.

The loss was Russia's first of the tournament, and it means that the club will have to pack up and travel to Paris, France, to take on the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.

The win was Team USA's sixth in a row and sets up an elimination-round matchup against Finland.

The Russian's scored first on Tuesday, capitalizing on one of just three shots in the primary period to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

Watch: Highlights

In the second period, both teams traded tallies to make things interesting. Kevin Hayes (New York Rangers) capitalized on a power play a mere 60 seconds into the frame, but Russia's Anton Belov responded 6:33 later to make it 2-1. Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) again gave the Americans a tie game to work with, but Nikita Gusev used a man-advantage opportunity to pot his second of the match and put Russia up 3-2.

Not to be outdone, Hayes netted his second of the match to take a 3-3 deadlock into the second intermission.

A slashing call on Evgeny Kuznetsov (Washington Capitals) 2:46 into the final stanza proved to be the deciding factor for both clubs, as Anders Lee (New York Islanders) capitalized on the power play to give Team USA its first lead of the game.

Try as they might, the Russians were unable to generate much after that, and Brock Nelson (Islanders) buried an empty-netter with 22 seconds left to secure the 5-3 victory.

Nelson (one goal, two assists), Larkin (one goal, one assist), Hayes (two goals) and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames (two assists) finished with multi-point efforts.

Colorado Avalanche rookie J.T. Compher skated for 7:12 in the victory while playing on the fourth line.

Avs prospect Andrei Mironov did not play for Russia.



Team Sweden picked up its fourth consecutive victory and secured third place in Group A with a 4-2 win over Slovakia at LANXESS Arena in Cologne in the squad's final game of the preliminary round. 

The Swedes will face Switzerland in the quarterfinals on Thursday in Paris.

Watch: Highlights 

William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs) opened the scoring for Sweden just 4:02 into the game, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson extended the lead to 2-0 a mere 4:12 later.

Slovakia countered in the middle frame, closing the gap with a marker from Tomas Matousek, but Sweden's Dennis Everberg responded with another goal just 1:37 after that to make it 3-1. The Slovaks replaced goaltender Julius Hudacek after the tally, giving Jaroslav Janus a chance to backstop a comeback.

Slovakia made it 3-2 a mere 1:34 into the third period, but there was little offense from the club after that. Sweden outshot its opponent 18-4 in the stanza, and William Karlsson (Columbus Blue Jackets) potted an empty-netter with 32 seconds remaining to take the 4-2 victory. 

Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) made 13 saves in the triumph. 

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog finished with four shots on goal in 16:39 of ice time. He skated with his regular linemates, Victor Rask and Elias Lindholm of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Carl Soderberg ended the match with two shots and a plus-1 rating in 10:54 of game action. He was paired with Karlsson and Everberg. 

Slovakia was previously eliminated from tournament contention on Sunday.


CANADA (5) vs. FINLAND (2)

Team Canada maintained its top seed in Group B at the end of preliminary action at the 2017 Worlds after topping Finland 5-2 at AccorHotels Arena in Paris on Tuesday.

Finland was no threat to move into the top spot, but the squad was looking for a regulation win in order to jump the Czech Republic for third place in the grouping. 

Canada will face co-host Germany in Cologne in the quarterfinals on Thursday while Finland must take on Team USA.

Watch: Highlights 

The Canadians took an early lead over the Finns on Tuesday, as Mitch Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs) scored the first of his two tallies just 2:46 into the contest. Finland responded 22 seconds later to even things out, but Colton Parayko (St. Louis Blues) and Marner managed man-advantage markers to make it 3-1 heading into the first intermission. 

Canada opened the scoring again in the middle frame, as Brayden Point (Tampa Bay Lightning) extended the advantage to 4-1. Finland followed up with a goal of its own, but that would be it as far as offensive output from the squad. 

Avalanche forward Matt Duchene got his first goal of the event 34 seconds into the third period to make it 5-2, and Canada held on for the win.

"I hope we're peaking at the right time," Duchene told the IIHF website. "This is the time to peak right now. We have three games left in our season and we want to make them count. We go 3-0 and we've got a three-peat here. It'd be huge." 

Avs keeper Calvin Pickard was between the pipes for the victory, turning aside 18 shots to get his third triumph of the preliminary round.

Duchene finished with the tally and three shots on goal in 14:59 of ice time while skating alongside Alex Killorn (Lightning) and Sean Couturier (Philadelphia Flyers) on the third line.

Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon picked up an assist in the first period and ended the match with one shot in 15:44 of game action. He was again paired with Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) and Jeff Skinner (Hurricanes) on the top trio. The 21-year-old forward is second in the competition in scoring, having registered 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in seven games.

Rookie Mikko Rantanen paced all players on Team Finland with 19:16 of ice time in the loss.

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