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Hellebuyck pitches 21-save shutout in 1-0 win

by IIHF.com Staff / Winnipeg Jets

Author: John Sanful



Brock Nelson scored the game winner and lone goal of the contest in the second period. Connor Hellebuyck made 21 saves, winning his third game in as many starts.

For the USA, their fourth victory of the tournament returned them to sole possession of first place in Group B, two points ahead of Belarus.

The game was evenly matched and featured a fairly active pace by both teams. Scoring changes were about even in the first period but Denmark would get some quality bangs at the puck throughout. Still, the Americans were not at their sharpest at times and allowed Denmark some opportunities they wre not able to capitalize on.

"Too many times tonight looking for the extra pass and it led to turnovers," head coach Todd Richards said of his team's performance. "They played hard, came after us and forced us into turnovers. We did not manage the puck the way we need to. We were fortunate to get out with a 1-0 win."

Coming off a 5-2 loss to Russia on Wednesday, Denmark kept it close but in the end could not generate offense, a theme for this squad since the start of the World Championships. In five games Denmark has scored six goals. With that in mind, Denmark turned to its future for help.

Denmark introduced highly touted prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand. Tonight marked his first World Championship game for the senior team. Two days ago, the 20-year-old Bjorkstrand was named the Western Hockey League Player of the Year, scoring 63 goals and 118 points on the season. He’s only been in the Czech Republic for a few days since arriving from North America but head coach Jan Karlsson is hoping Bjorkstrand can add something to the lineup.

In the game Bjorkstrand was active playing on a line with his brother Patrick and Jesper Jensen. Throughout the game he was not shy about shooting the puck. The Bjorkstrand brothers accounted for nine of Denmark's 21 shots in the game.

By the second period, the Americans began to get more scoring chances with Sebastian Dahm the last line of defence for the Danes. He managed to keep everything out until 7:54 of the second period.

Team USA finally scored when Brock Nelson scored on a wraparound. Nelson has one point in each of the five games that Team USA has played. The goal was his fourth of the tournament.

Oliver Bjorkstrand went on a break less than three minutes into the third period showing tremendous speed in making that happen. Alone in on Hellebuyck, he stickhandled his way on goal and chose a backhand that was stopped by the goaltender. He would have another about eight minutes later that was also among the higher percentage scoring opportunities for the Danes.

"It was a close one, I had a few chances that I kinda wished I'd scored on," Gronstrand said. "Next time I need to be a bit sharper and bury those chances. I gotta shoot where the goalie isn't, where he doesn't cover the net."

As the third period came close to the half way mark, Denmark played with a greater sense of urgency and forced the attack into the American end of the ice. When Nick Bonino was sent off for slashing, Denmark moved the puck well and got a few chances, the best being a shot from Morten Madsen.

Madsen would also work another opportunity, this time when his team was shorthanded. Madsen worked the puck deep behind the USA net before finding Jesper B. Jensen who fired a hard slapshot that Hellebuyck was able to knock away.

"This is one of the best teams in the world, they beat Russia the other day and I think we were very good," said Kirill Starkov. "We deserved better than a one-goal defeat, we should have got points today.

Today is about confidence. We wanted to win but a performance like this gives us confidence."

The US was able to hold on for the win. Despite the shutout loss, Oliver Bjorkstrand, who was named best player of the game for Denmark, made his mark on the night. It give Denmark some hope heading into its last two games that they might avoid relegation.

"It was a tough game, not a lot of chances for both teams but we found a way to win," said Nelson. "It's a big three points for us."

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