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WJC 2016: U.S. routs Czech Republic, advances to semifinal

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Defending champion Canada lost to Finland 6-5 in the quarterfinals of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki on Saturday.

Right wing Patrik Laine, a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, scored twice for Finland, including the game-winner on the power play with 5:50 remaining.

Antti Kalapudas, Aleksi Saarela (New York Rangers), Julius Nattinen (Anaheim Ducks) and Sebastian Aho (Carolina Hurricanes) had goals for Finland, which plays Sweden in one semifinal Monday (9 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Jesse Puljujarvi, also a top prospect for the 2016 draft, had three assists and leads the tournament with 15 points. With two games remaining in the tournament he's three points from tying the record for most points by an under-18 player at the World Juniors held by Jaromir Jagr, who had 18 points for Czechoslovakia at the 1990 WJC.

Goaltender Veini Vehvilainen, a B-rated player on NHL Central Scouting's November players to watch list for the 2016 draft, allowed three goals on 12 shots before being pulled near the midway point of the second period. Kaapo Kahkonen (Minnesota Wild) made 20 saves in relief.

Mitchell Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs) scored two power-play goals in the third period for Canada. Canada had reached the tournament semifinals in the previous 18 World Junior tournaments but has failed to win a medal in three of the past four. They finished sixth at the 2016 WJC.

And the roundup...

United States 7, Czech Republic 0 -- Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, had a hat trick to lead the United States into the semifinals against Russia on Monday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN).

Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) made 28 saves to earn his first shutout of the tournament.

"I'm really proud of the effort our players showed here tonight," U.S. coach Ron Wilson told the USA Hockey website. "We had contributions from every line and all situations. I like where our team is at and we're looking forward to the next game."

Matthews scored his first two goals 4:53 apart in the second period and completed his hat trick 24 seconds into the third period. He leads all players with seven goals. And with two games remaining he's one goal shy of the U.S. single-tournament record of eight goals set by Jeremy Roenick at the 1989 WJC.

Nick Schmaltz (Chicago Blackhawks), Christian Dvorak (Arizona Coyotes), Scott Eansor and Alexander DeBrincat, an A-rated prospect for the 2016 draft, also scored for the United States. The U.S. has outscored its opponents 25-5 in winning four of its five games.

Russia 4, Denmark 3 (OT) -- Vladislav Kamenev (Nashville Predators) scored his second goal of the game at 5:00 of overtime to move unbeaten Russia into the semifinals against the United States (1 p.m ET; NHLN).

Kamenev had forced the overtime by scoring with 44 seconds remaining in the third period.

"This will really help us to be more like a team, to play with emotion and without mistakes, Kamenev told the IIHF website.

Yegor Korshkov and Artur Lauta each had a goal and an assist for Russia, which outshot Denmark 46-21.

Thomas Olsen, Markus Jensen and Emil Christensen scored for Denmark.

Russia lost 5-4 to Canada in the 2015 final and is trying to win the gold medal for the first time since 2011.

Sweden 6, Slovakia 0 -- Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) made 17 saves for his second shutout of the tournament, moving unbeaten Sweden into the semifinals against Finland on Monday (9 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Adrian Kempe (Los Angeles Kings), Jens Looke (Coyotes), Axel Holmstrom (Detroit Red Wings), Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (Boston Bruins), Christoffer Ehn (Red Wings) and Alexander Nylander, an A-rated prospect for the 2016 draft, scored for Sweden, which put the game away with three third-period goals.

"Feels good to be through to the semifinals," Holmstrom told the IIHF website. "I thought we played a really solid game."

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