FINLAND (5) VS. DENMARK (1)
Can anybody at the 2016 IIHF World Championship beat Finland?
We'll have to wait until Saturday to find out, as the top-ranked Finns demolished Denmark 5-1 in one of the opening games of the elimination round at the Yubileiny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday.
Mikael Granlund opened the scoring for Finland just 4:29 into the quarterfinal match, and by the end of the middle stanza the Finns held a commanding 3-1 lead.
Despite Lars Eller’s lone marker in the second period to give the Danes some life, Finland shut the door late in the final frame by tallying twice—once into the empty net—in 31 seconds to seal the 5-1 victory.
Colorado Avalanche prospect Mikko Rantanen skated in his third straight game at the Worlds, and he finished the contest with one shot, two penalty minutes and 10:07 of ice time.
Finland remained perfect through eight games at the competition and will have Friday off before taking on host-nation Russia in the semifinals on Saturday at the Ice Palace in Moscow.
UNITED STATES (2) VS. CZECH REPUBLIC (1) - SHOOTOUT
While Finland was continuing to dominate the competition in St. Petersburg, the United States was trying to keep its gold medal hopes alive in a match against the Group A top-dog Czech Republic at the Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia.
Team USA was ultimately the victor in the close 2-1 decision, but it took a shootout to get the squad to move on to the semifinals.
The Czechs took ahold of the contest 5:23 into the opening period of play when Tomas Zohorna converted a penalty shot into a 1-0 lead for his country. A hooking infraction by Patrick Maroon led to the chance.
The Americans countered 1:27 into the middle stanza, quickly evening the score when Auston Matthews tucked the puck between the legs of netmindner Dominik Furch.
After that, the game was a stalemate. Nobody scored throughout regulation and 10-minute overtime frame that saw both teams combine for 10 shots.
In the shootout, it was all Matthews again. The highly touted 2016 Draft prospect was the lone goalscorer, winning the game for the United States with another five-hole shot that nicked Furch’s foot and slid into the net.
Avs prospect JT Compher ended the game with one shot, a 63.6 faceoff-win percentage and 12:54 of playing time.
Team USA will face the stacked Canadian club in the semifinals on Saturday at the Ice Palace in Moscow.
CANADA (6) VS. SWEDEN (0)
After falling to Finland in the final game of the preliminary round—a contest that determined the final seeding for the elimination portion of the competition—the Canadians came out firing on Thursday at the Yubileiny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Canadians sent the Swedes packing with a 6-0 shutout win that saw a steady stream of pucks in Sweden’s netting.
Mark Scheifele kicked off the deluge when he tallied with 1:21 remaining in the first period.
The flow of goals picked up in the middle frame as Matt Dumba found the back of the net before Brad Marchand and Max Domi recorded markers 11 seconds apart to keep the momentum going.
The third stanza offered no safe haven for the Swedes either. Canada scored twice more to take the powerful 6-0 victory and berth in the semifinals.
Canadian center Matt Duchene, serving as an alternate captain at the tournament, finished the win with one shot on goal and 15:40 of ice time.
Avs netminder Calvin Pickard served as backup to Cam Talbot.
Swedish rear guard Anton Lindholm skated in his third consecutive game at the Worlds and finished with a minus-2 rating through 9:18 of game action.
Canada plays the United States in the Semifinals on Saturday at the Ice Palace in Moscow. This will be the second meeting between the neighboring nations. The Canadians won the previous matchup by a 5-1 margin on May 6.