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Five things: Werenski leads all WJC defensemen in points

by Mike G. Morreale / Columbus Blue Jackets

United States center Auston Matthews, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, keyed an offensive outburst Wednesday with two goals and two assists to lead the U.S. to a 10-1 victory against Switzerland in a Group A preliminary-round game of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship at Helsinki Ice Hall in Finland.

The Americans rebounded from a 1-0 loss against Sweden on Monday with their biggest offensive showing in four years at the tournament to solidify a spot in the quarterfinal round. The last time the United States scored as many as 10 goals came against Latvia in a 12-2 victory at the 2012 WJC in Calgary.

The U.S. played without top-line right wing Alexander DeBrincat, who is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury. DeBrincat, who stars for Erie in the Ontario Hockey League, is an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list.

Colin White, selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators, replaced DeBrincat on the top line alongside Matthews and left wing Matthew Tkachuk, also an A-rated skater on Central Scouting's November list.

The Tkachuk-Matthews-White line combined for five goals and 10 points in the victory. Matthews, who leads the U.S. with six points in three games, was named the player of the game for the U.S. Tkachuk had two goals and one assist and White one goal and two assists.

"Everybody contributed so that was nice to see," Matthews told NHL Network. "And as far as [Tkachuk] goes, he's a great player. Colin White did a great job as well so we meshed really well [Wednesday] and scored some goals. Last year was pretty disappointing [finishing fifth at the 2015 WJC]. So this year we want a different result. So far I think we've played pretty well."

U.S. defenseman Zachary Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets) had one goal and two assists. Werenski, who is the U.S. captain, leads all defensemen in the tournament with five points (two goals, three assists).

The victory moved the United States into second place in Group A with six points. Sweden is first with nine points. The U.S. will play fourth-place Denmark on Thursday (9 a.m. ET; NHLN) to complete their preliminary-round schedule.

"The game [against Denmark] doesn't mean anything to either team but we do want to finish ahead of Canada," U.S. coach Ron Wilson said. "So I suggest to our team we have to win the game."

There were three other games Wednesday: Czech Republic defeated Belarus 5-3; Sweden defeated Denmark 5-0; and Finland defeated Slovakia 8-3.

Read the five things we learned on the fifth day of action in the World Junior Championship by clicking HERE.

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