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Sweden locks up spot in quarterfinals with 4-2 win over Denmark

Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman continue to play big minutes for Sweden

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

Sweden clinched a spot in the single-elimination quarterfinal round at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship after defeating Denmark 4-2 on Sunday. Sweden can finish no lower than fourth in Group A, and the top four teams from each group following preliminary play advance to the quarters, which begin Thursday.

Sweden scored three-straight goals to open its contest against Denmark then held off a rally from the pesky Danes to win by two goals in Cologne.

William Nylander netted the game-winning goal with 54 seconds remaining in the second period, part of a two-goal night for Nylander. Nicklas Backstrom, playing his first game for Team Sweden following the Washington Capitals' ouster in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, added a late power-play insurance goal after Denmark had cut Sweden's lead to one

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman had to get four stitches below his eye on Friday after his visor cracked and cut his face. Hedman was back in Team Sweden's lineup on Sunday, skating 22:42 (second-most on Sweden) and recording one shot.

The Bolts' Anton Stralman had two shots and was plus-one while leading Sweden for time on ice (25:49).

Sweden (13 points) trails the United States (15) by two points for first place and second-place Russia (14) by one point in Group A. Sweden completes preliminary play on Tuesday against Slovakia.

United States 6, Slovakia 1

The United States temporarily took up residence at the top of Group A following a 6-1 victory over Slovakia in Cologne.

Having won five in a row following a tournament-opening defeat to host Germany, the United States has 15 points, one more than Russia (14) although Russia owns a game in hand.

Johnny Gaudreau netted two goals and added an assist for a three-point game to lead the Americans. Gaudreau is tied with France's Stephane Da Costa for the tournament goal lead with six.

Team USA clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with the victory.

The United States has just one more preliminary game against Russia on Tuesday in a contest that will decide the Group A champion.

Czech Republic 5, France 2

The Czech Republic pulled into a tie with Canada for first place in Group B after taking care of host France 5-2 in Paris.

The Czech Republic and Canada each have 13 points, although Canada has two games remaining while the Czech Republic has just one, that coming Tuesday against Switzerland.

Michal Repik scored two goals to pace the Czechs, who have won five straight after opening the tournament with a loss to Canada.

Finland 3, Switzerland 2 (OT)

Valtteri Filppula scored the game-winner 2:24 into overtime to lead Finland to a 3-2 victory over Switzerland in a battle of two teams fighting for the final two quarterfinal spots in Group B.

Switzerland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period in Paris behind goals from Fabrice Herzog and Joel Genazzi, but Finland got a goal back on Jusso Hietanen's power-play marker with 59 seconds remaining in the opening period.

Finland's Mikko Rantanen converted another power play at 7:40 of the final period to level the score 2-2 and force overtime.

Switzerland (12 points) remains in third place in Group B, one point behind Canada and the Czech Republic with one more game to play (Tuesday vs. Czech Republic).

Finland (11 points) is a point behind Switzerland in fourth and three points clear of fifth-place Norway although Norway owns a game in hand. Finland finishes preliminary play on Tuesday versus Canada.

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