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Finland Takes Top Seed in Group A

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

FINLAND (4) VS. CANADA (0)

Finland put an exclamation point in its title as the best team in Group B on the final day of preliminary play at the World Championship.

The Finns defeated Canada 4-0 on Tuesday in a matchup of the top two clubs, securing the pool's No. 1 seed going into the quarterfinals.

A scoreless first stanza at the Yubileiny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, gave way to a three-goal run by Finland in the second period, breaking open the contest.

Avalanche prospect Mikko Rantanen, who was playing in his second contest at the World Championship for the Finns, picked up the lone assist on Tommi Kivisto's tally that began the scoring at 6:10 of the middle frame. It was Rantanen's first point at the IIHF's senior event.

Leo Komarov and Mika Pyorala registered markers 2:47 apart late in the frame, and Jamo Koskiranta sealed the Canadians fate with a goal of his own 2:34 into the third period.

The 19-year-old Rantanen played 12:23 while on Finland's fourth line.

Canada forward Matt Duchene had one shot and went 50 percent at the faceoff dot (2-for-4). He, along with Taylor Hall, helped nurture NHL rookies Connor McDavid and Sam Reinhart on a line.

Goaltender Calvin Pickard did not play in the contest, instead serving as Cam Talbot's backup. Talbot made only 15 saves as the Canadians were outshot 21-19.

Both Canada and Finland are going for two separate, yet impressive accomplishments as the tournament heads to the medal round. Canada is looking to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since Russia in 2008 and 2009, while Finland is aiming to become the first nation ever to win the IIHF's Under-18, Under-20 World Junior and World Championship events in the same calendar year.

Finland will play Denmark, the fourth seed of Group A, in the quarterfinals on Thursday, while Canada is set to face the third-seeded Sweden.

SLOVAKIA (3) VS. UNITED STATES (2) – OVERTIME

Marko Dano scored 59 seconds into overtime and Slovakia defeated the United States 3-2 on Tuesday at the Yubileiny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Despite the loss, the U.S. will play another day as it still edged Slovakia by two points (10-8) for the fourth and final spot into the medal round from Group B.

The United States trailed 1-0 going into the first intermission after Christian Jaros tallied with 1:21 left before the break, but Brock Nelson tied the outing for the U.S. at 7:15 of the second period.

Nick Foligno gave Team USA a 2-1 lead 2:53 into the third period before Slovakia's Pavol Skalicky scored the tying goal less than 10 minutes later to help force extra time.

Avalanche prospect JT Compher went 3-for-9 on faceoffs and had a minus-1 rating while playing 13:11. The 21-year-old was on a line with former University of Michigan linemates Kyle Connor and Tyler Motte.

The Americans will play the Group A-winning Czech Republic in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

RUSSIA (4) VS. SWEDEN (1)

With its fate already sealed as at least the second seed in Group A, there was no letdown for the host nation as the Russians put together a dominating performance over the tough Swedes.

Russia scored twice in both the first and second periods and beat Sweden 4-1 at the Ice Palace in Moscow.

Matthias Ekholm recorded Sweden's only tally during a power play 1:06 into the final period, but the game was already well in hand for Russia at that point.

The blowout was beneficial for Avs prospect Anton Lindholm, who as Sweden's seventh defenseman played 6:01 of his 9:29 in the third period. Lindholm was appearing in his second game at the tournament after he made his IIHF and World Championship debut in Sweden's 3-2 overtime victory over Switzerland on Sunday.

Team Sweden will play Canada in Thursday's quarterfinals, while Russia faces Germany.

NORWAY (3) VS. LATVIA (1)

Team Norway closed out its tournament with a 3-1 win over Latvia at the Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia.

Norway, which had already been eliminated from medal-round contention before the game began, tallied three unanswered goals to erase a 1-0 deficit midway in the opening period.

Avalanche forward Andreas Martinsen assisted on former Colorado defenseman Jonas Holos' goal 40 seconds into the second period, which stood as the game-winner, and Johannes Johannesen gave the Norwegians a two-tally advantage with an unassisted marker 16 seconds later.

Martinsen finished the game with two shots on goal and a plus-1 rating in 12:59 of ice time. He played in all seven contests for Norway, totaling three points (two goals and one assist), eight penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating.

CZECH REPUBLIC (5) VS. SWITZERLAND (4)

The Czech Republic held off a late push by Switzerland and won Group A with a 5-4 victory on Tuesday at the Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia.

Switzerland's World Championship came to an end as it failed to qualify for the medal round for the second time in three years. The Swiss needed a win in regulation to advance.

Goaltender Reto Berra made 26 saves on 30 shots against for Switzerland. He finished the tournament with a 3.39 goals-against average and .881 save percentage in six games.

The Czech Republic led 5-2 with nearly six minutes left after Michal Jordan tallied a short-handed, empty-net goal, but Switzerland gave a valiant effort to make for an interesting final minutes. Noah Schneeberger notched his first of the tournament at 15:42, and Sven Andrighetto scored while the Swiss had an extra attacker with 26 seconds left.

The Czechs will face the United States in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

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