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Final four is set, with U.S. facing Russia in Worlds semis

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets


Ben Smith (San Jose Sharks) and Charlie Coyle (Minnesota Wild) scored 57 seconds apart midway through the second period to help the United States rally to a 3-1 victory against Switzerland on Thursday in a quarterfinal game at the 2015 IIHF World Championship played at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs) also had a goal and Anders Lee (New York Islanders) had two assists for the U.S. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets) made 21 saves.

The United States will play Russia in the semifinals Saturday at O2 Arena in Prague. The U.S. defeated Russia 4-2 when they played in the preliminary round.

"I thought overall we had a really solid effort," U.S. coach Todd Richards told the USA Hockey website. "We fell behind 1-0 after the first period but I thought we played a pretty good period. Our goaltender made some good saves early in the second period. And when we got that first goal I thought things started to change. This team continues to find a way to win and I'm really proud of the group."

Roman Josi (Nashville Predators) scored for Switzerland. Goaltender Reto Berra (Colorado Avalanche) made 21 saves.

Josi's goal at 13:04 of the first period put Switzerland ahead 1-0, but the U.S. took the lead with a flurry of offense in the second.

At 10:17 of the second, Jimmy Vesey (Nashville Predators) set up Smith in front for a goal, and at 11:14 Coyle tipped a point shot by defenseman Seth Jones (Nashville Predators) past Berra.

"It was a big minute and a big boost for all the team," U.S. forward Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings) told the IIHF website. "We got the second period we needed, and we executed well and kept it a lot more simple today."

Gardiner gave the U.S. some breathing room when he took a pass from Coyle and beat Berra past his blocker at 10:33 of the third.

"We're all really excited," Hellebuyck told the USA Hockey website. "I'm really exhausted because they played a really good game against us. I thought we really bought into our system and played the way we want to play."

Russia 5, Sweden 3: Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) scored two goals, including the game-winner late in the third period, to lead Russia to a win against Sweden in a quarterfinal game played at CEZ Arena in Ostrava.

Malkin's first goal gave Russia a 3-0 lead 48 seconds into the second period, but Sweden rallied to tie the game on a goal by Loui Eriksson (Boston Bruins) at 14:45 of the third.

But 26 seconds later, Malkin's shot from the side of the net went off the skate of Sweden defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona Coyotes) and past goaltender Anders Nilsson to give Russia a 4-3 lead.

Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues) had a goal and two assists. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) made 25 saves.

Russia will play the United States in a semifinal game Saturday at O2 Arena in Prague. The U.S. defeated Russia 4-2 when they played in the preliminary round.

"We should be excited about the U.S.," Russia forward Viktor Tikhonov told the IIHF website. "It's what we wanted because every time you lose to someone you always want to prove that you can come back and beat them. We got our chance and we've got to go out there and win."

Anton Lander (Edmonton Oilers) had a goal and two assists for Sweden, and John Klingberg (Dallas Stars) had a goal and an assist. Goalie Jhonas Enroth (Dallas Stars) started for Sweden but he was removed after Russia went ahead 3-0.

Sweden began its comeback midway through the second period on a power-play goal by Klingberg. Lander's goal at 3:36 of the third made it 3-2 and then Eriksson tipped a Lander shot past Bobrovsky to tie the game.

Late in the third, with the Sweden net empty, Tarasenko was awarded a goal when he was tripped taking the puck to the net.

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