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Wood scores as U.S. beats Belarus for first win of world championships

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils

Miles Wood
drives the net in Saturday's action vs. Belarus. (Photo: Getty Images)

Miles Wood
scored his first goal of the IIHF World Championship in Team USA’s 6-3 win over Belarus in St. Petersburg, Russia on Saturday.

Auston Matthews, the projected first overall pick at next month’s NHL Draft, scored twice and added an assist. Frank Vatrano (Boston Bruins) and Vinnie Hinostroza (Chicago Blackhawks) each registered a pair of helpers.

The United States went 3-for-6 on the power play to capture its first win of the tournament. Coach John Hynes' squad evened its record at 1-1 and rebounded from Friday’s 5-1 loss to Canada.

"I thought our team responded well tonight, particularly against a well-coached team like Belarus, and a team that beat us in this tournament last year," Hynes told the USA Hockey website.

Devils defensemen David Warsofsky (14:47 TOI) and prospect Steven Santini (2 shots, 8:27 TOI) were paired together on the blue line. Mike Condon (Montreal Canadiens) made 20 saves in the win.

Team USA held leads of 3-0 and 5-1 before Belarus battled back late. The Belarusians got it to 5-3 before the U.S. pulled away for good on Matthews’ second of the game late in regulation.

Wood gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead midway through the first period with help from Vatrano and Hinostroza. The Devils’ fourth-round pick, 100th overall, in 2013, Wood signed a three-year, entry-level deal on April 8 and made his NHL debut in the 2015-16 season finale.

Power-play goals from Chris Wideman (Ottawa Senators) in the first and Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings) early in the second staked the Americans to a 3-0 cushion. Belarus connected on the man advantage to get on the board, but Noah Hanifin (Carolina Hurricanes) tallied 59 seconds later to restore Team USA’s three-goal edge.

The U.S. appeared to have the game in hand when Matthews’ power-play goal made it 5-1 at 14:25 of the second. But the Belarusians weren’t done. Andrei Stas scored unassisted with under two minutes to go in the second, and Dmitri Korobov broke through on the power play to get them back within two, 5-3, midway through the third.

Matthews finally put the game out of reach with his second with five minutes left in regulation.

Devils prospect Artur Gavrus had one shot in 11:29 of ice time for Belarus.

The U.S. continues the preliminary round on Monday when it takes on Finland in Group B play.

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