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WJC 2016: U.S. to face Czech Republic in quarterfinals

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Sonny Milano's goal 4:02 into the second period propelled the United States to a 4-1 win against Denmark at Helsinki Ice Hall on the final day of preliminary-round play at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Milano, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, also had an assist. Auston Matthews, projected to be the top pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, also had a goal and an assist, as did Colin White (Ottawa Senators). Anders Bjork (Boston Bruins) also scored and Matthew Tkachuk, another top prospect for the 2016 draft, had two assists. Goaltender Brandon Halverson (New York Rangers) made 16 saves.

The victory clinched second place in Group A for the U.S. After losing to Sweden 1-0 in its second game, It beat Switzerland and Denmark by a combined 14-2. The U.S. will play the Czech Republic, the third-place team from Group B, in the quarterfinals on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN).

"It wasn't the start we wanted, but I'm happy with the way we turned things around," U.S. coach Ron Wilson told the USA Hockey website. "Our players should feel good about leaving this group with three wins. We'll enjoy this tonight and then turn our attention to the quarterfinal."

Mathias Lassen scored for Denmark. Goaltender Mathias Seldrup made 40 saves. Denmark finished fourth in Group A and will play Russia, the first-place team from Group B, in the quarterfinals on Saturday (7 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Seldrup's goal gave Denmark a 1-0 lead 10:14 into the first period, but Matthews scored his U.S.-leading fourth goal of the WJC with 2:56 left in the period to tie the game.

Milano's go-ahead goal came 4:02 into the second. He left the penalty box after being picked to serve a bench minor on the U.S., got to the net and knocked in the rebound of a shot by defenseman Louis Belpedio (Minnesota Wild).

White and Bjork scored 2:03 apart in the third period to clinch the victory.

Sweden 5, Canada 2 -- Alexander Nylander and Rasmus Asplund, A-rated prospects for the 2016 NHL Draft, each had a goal and an assist for Sweden in the final game of Group A, at Helsinki Ice Hall.

Adrian Kempe (Los Angeles Kings) and Gustav Forsling (Chicago Blackhawks) also had a goal and an assist each. Goaltender Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) made 21 saves but was removed from the game with 3:49 left in the third period. Felix Sandstrom (Philadelphia Flyers) stopped the only shot he faced.

Sweden, which already had clinched first place in Group A, won all four of its preliminary-round games in regulation and will play Slovakia in the quarterfinals on Saturday (9:30 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Mitchell Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning) scored for Canada, and goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey Devils) made 27 saves. Canada, which finished third in Group A, will play Finland in the quarterfinals on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET; NHLN).

Canada also lost its first game, 4-2 to the United States. It's the first time Canada has lost two preliminary-round games at the WJC since 1998, when the tournament also was played in Finland. Canada finished eighth that year, its worst-ever performance at the WJC.

Nylander and Forsling scored power-play goals in the first period, and after Stephens got Canada on the board, Kempe scored a power-play goal in the second period to make it 3-1. Sweden scored twice more in the third, capped by an empty-net goal by Asplund.

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