Goaltender Calvin Pickard registered his first career World Championship shutout and Canada defeated France 4-0 on Monday at the Yubileiny Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Canada's victory sets up a big matchup on Tuesday against Finland for the top seed in Group B. Both squads are tied for first place with 18 points, though the Canadians hold an edge in goal differential (30-19).
The winner of Group B will play the fourth seed of Group A in Thursday's quarterfinals, which will be either Denmark or Switzerland.
"We’ve played well over six games and try to keep improving," said Pickard to the official IIHF website. "We know Finland will be tough. Tomorrow is the next step in getting ready for the medal round."
Pickard wasn't tested much Monday, but he was perfect when he was. The Colorado Avalanche netminder stopped all 13 shots against and has now denied 34 of 35 in his two outings in Russia. Pickard last played May 8, where he won his Worlds debut in the Canadians' 7-1 defeat of Hungary.
Mark Stone opened the scoring in the first period against France, and the Avs' Matt Duchene gave Canada a two-goal advantage with 4:34 left in the middle frame after he knocked in a rebound as a French penalty expired.
Duchene was the elder statesman on a line that included NHL rookies Max Domi and Connor McDavid and finished the contest with five shots and a plus-1 rating in 17:27 of ice time.
However, the game could have drastically been different before Duchene's fourth goal of the tournament as France was given a penalty shot after Ryan Ellis took a slashing infraction during a breakaway. Charles Bertrand took the shot, but the puck slid off his stick before he was able to get it off.
"I just tried to stay patient," Pickard said to the Canadian Press. "It was a big part of the game. It was 1-0 at the start of the second, so I wanted to stay patient. He kind of lost the puck there—it was a good result for sure."
Mark Scheifele and Corey Perry added markers in the third period to seal Canada's sixth win of the tournament.
RUSSIA (3) VS. NORWAY (0)
The Russians scored twice in the second period and recorded another in the third on Monday to pick up a 3-0 victory over Norway at the Ice Palace in Moscow and stay in contention for the top seed in Group A.
Team Russia and the Czech Republic are tied for the No. 1 spot with 15 points going into the last day of the preliminary round. Russia faces Sweden, which has 13 points and can also get the top seed with a win and some help, while the Czechs play Denmark.
Avalanche and Norwegian forward Andreas Martinsen once again played on the team's top line and had one shot in 12:42 of ice time.
Norway, which has avoided relegation, is now officially eliminated from playoff contention and closes out its tournament on Tuesday against Latvia.