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Hedman, Harju lift Swedes to top spot

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning
Victor Hedman of Sweden celebrates his team's third goal with team mates during the IIHF World Championship group E qualification round match between Switzerland and Sweden at SAP Arena on May 18, 2010 in Mannheim, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Both of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s resident Swedes enjoyed another successful day at the World Championships today in Germany. Johan Harju scored his second goal in as many games and Victor Hedman added an additional score in their home country’s 5-0 win over Switzerland, with Hedman also leading the team with a plus-two rating and logging 11:34 in ice time.  Harju finished with a plus-one rating.

Also in action on Tuesday, Team USA defeated Italy 3-2, while France beat Kazakhstan 5-3, Germany bested Slovakia 2-1, and Canada, happy to see the return of Steven Stamkos from a mild concussion, fell to the Czech Republic 3-2. Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin was given a day off as he yielded duties to Semyon Varlamov in Russia’s 5-0 shutout of Finland.

Harju doubled Sweden’s one-goal lead 48 seconds into the second period as he fired a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle over the glove of Swiss net minder Tobias Stephan. Nearly three minutes later Hedman made it 3-0, as he skillfully finished off a cross-ice pass into the back of the net. It was the 19-year-old Tampa Bay blueliner's first career World Championship goal. The Swedes never looked back, scoring twice more as they clinched the top spot in Group F in their final qualification round game.

Team USA earned a hard fought victory to avoid dropping into international hockey’s second tier. T.J. Oshie scored the game-winner in the shootout after the Americans came back from a 2-1 deficit with Ryan Potulny’s tying score in the third period. Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin was kept off the score sheet, but nonetheless recorded two shots on net and logged 15:33 of ice time.

Germany barely escaped with a one-goal victory over Slovakia after blowing a two-goal advantage. Slovakia’s Marek Svatos cut the margin to a single goal in the middle frame, but that would be the last score for either team as the host country inched out the win. Lightning prospect Richard Panik capped the effort with an even rating and nearly nine minutes of playing time, while teammate and Tampa Bay defensive hopeful Vladimir Mihalik finished fourth on the team with 17:39 in ice time and one shot.

Steven Stamkos returned to the ice in his first game back for Team Canada following a mild concussion, but his presence was not enough as the Canadians failed to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the third period to the Czechs. Matt Duchene brought the score to 3-2 in the final stanza, but it wasn’t enough, as the loss marked the first time since 1992 that Canada had lost three games prior to the tournament quarterfinals. Stamkos recorded a pair of shots in the contest and logged 19:38 in ice time, while Steve Downie matched his Lightning teammate’s shot total and registered an even rating in nearly nine minutes of ice time.

With a day off tomorrow, the tournament will resume on Thursday with a slate of games between Finland and the Czech Republic, Sweden and Denmark, Switzerland and Germany, and the afternoon’s premier showdown between Canada and an undefeated Russian squad.

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