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North America Falls To Czechs

Exhibition games closed out on Wednesday

by Ryan Boulding and Ron Knabenbauer / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CZECH REPUBLIC (3) vs. NORTH AMERICA (2)

A team finally managed to put a stop to the waterfall of goalscoring pouring out of Team North America in the exhibition round of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Entering the final pre-tournament match of the event, the under-23 squad had outscored opponents 11-4 through two contests.

Yet the Czechs struck first on Wednesday as Ondrej Palat found twine in the first period to give his club the early lead.

The game would remain a tight back and forth until the final stanza, which is when the tallying returned.

Team Czech Republic looked to go ahead for good with a goal from Radek Faksa, but the young guns countered with back-to-back markers of their own. Shayne Gostisbehere made it 2-1 and Auston Matthews-the No. 1 overall selection at the 2016 NHL Draft-tied it up on the power play nearly two minutes later.

With all of the momentum on their side, the North Americans looked poised for a big finish. The Czechs were next to find the back of the net, however, when Tomas Plekanec finished a pass from behind the net less than a minute after the last tally to regain the lead-and ultimately take the win.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan Mackinnon was held scoreless in the game. He registered four shots, one hit and a minus-1 rating through 14:54 of ice time.

Team North America returns to action on Sunday, Sept. 18, in a preliminary-round contest versus Team Finland. The game starts at 6 p.m. MT and will be broadcast on ESPN2.

 

CANADA (3) vs. RUSSIA (2) - OT

Team Canada continued to pick up steam ahead of Saturday's start of the preliminary round of the World Cup, topping Russia 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday.

Canada took an early lead when Patrice Bergeron beat Russian netminder Sergei Bobrovsky in the first period.

The 1-0 advantage lasted until the third period, when Russia struck twice in a span of 3:45 to turn things around. Alex Ovechkin-on the power play-and Artemi Panarin solved Canadian netminder Corey Price to breathe new life into the contest, but Canada wasn't ready to fall.

John Tavares tallied to tie the game 2-2, forcing an eventual overtime, bonus hockey situation. With five minutes to play, both teams traded offensive attacks. But Ryan Getzlaf finished Russia off with a goal 3:29 into the extra period.

Avs forward Matt Duchene did not dress in the final exhibition match due to a minor injury. Team Canada coach Mike Babcock said Duchene is not expected to miss time when preliminary play kicks off on Saturday.
Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov also didn't play in the contest, though he served as Bobrovsky's backup.

Canada returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 17, in a 6 p.m. MT matchup against the Czech Republic (ESPNEWS). Russia doesn't skate again until Sunday, Sept. 18, when the club faces Sweden at 1 p.m. MT (ESPN). 

 

EUROPE (6) VS. SWEDEN (2)

Leon Draisaitl scored three goals and Team Europe closed out World Cup of Hockey's pre-tournament play with its first win, defeating Team Sweden 6-2 on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

Europe jumped out to a three-goal lead before Daniel Sedin got the Swedes on the scoreboard with 2:53 left in the second period. The Europeans added three more tallies in the final frame, including Draisaitl's hat-trick marker at 6:46.

Avalanche forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Carl Soderberg played on the same line for the third consecutive game for Sweden, but once again had a new linemate. Patrik Berglund, who was added to the roster on Monday after Rickard Rakell suffered an illness, was on the right side of the left wing Landeskog and center Soderberg.

Landeskog finished with a minus-1 rating in 12:53 of ice time and won all three faceoffs that he took. Soderberg also had a minus-1 rating and registered two shots and won 50 percent of his draws (5-of-10) in 12:03.

Sweden, which was appearing in its first game in North America after playing its first two pre-tournament contests in Europe, will now travel to Toronto for the first game of World Cup preliminary play on Sunday at 1 p.m. MT versus Russia at the Air Canada Centre.

Team Europe's first contest is against the United States on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT at Air Canada Centre.

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