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World Championship: Kucherov, Namestnikov lead Russia's rout

The Lightning forwards totaled four points each in a 10-1 drubbing of Italy on Sunday

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The Tampa Bay Lightning are heavily represented at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany.

Seven Lightning players along with Bolts head coach Jon Cooper are participating in the 17-day tournament. Cooper is the head coach of Team Canada, which features Lightning rookie center Brayden Point and forward Alex Killorn.

Team Russia features the most Bolts skaters on its roster with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and forwards Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov. Team Sweden is led on the back end by Tampa Bay defensemen Victor Hedman, a finalist for the Norris Trophy, and Anton Stralman.

The tournament consists of 16 teams broken into two groups.

Group A: Germany, Russia, Sweden, United States, Slovakia, Latvia, Denmark and Italy.

Group B: Canada, Finland, Belarus, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Norway, France and Slovenia.

The top four ranked teams from each group following the preliminary round advance to the single-elimination quarterfinal.

Preliminary play began Friday, May 5 and continues through May 16.

Russia 10, Italy 1

Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Nikita Kucherov led a scoring explosion in Russia's 10-1 dismantling of Italy during Day 3 of preliminary play at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Namestnikov and Kucherov each had four points and were two of four Russians overall - Artemi Panarin and Vadim Shipachyov the other -- with four points. Namestnikov scored a pair of goals and added two assists. Kucherov netted a power-play goal and set up three more goals.

Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 9-of-10 saves through two periods of play before giving way to Ilya Sorokin to start the third and won his second-straight game to open the tournament. Vasilevskiy has given up just one goal in each victory.

Italy cut Russia's advantage to 2-1 in the second period, but Kucherov answered 71 seconds later with a wrist shot from the top of the circle set up by Namestnikov to push Russia's lead back to two goals. The duo would combine again in the second when Kucherov fed Namestnikov for the first of his two goals and a 4-1 lead for Russia.

Namestnikov scored again in the third period for Russia's eighth goal. Russia led 5-1 after two periods and put up five more goals in the third to overwhelm the Italians.

Russia (five points), which is in second place in Group A following Sunday's win, has a quick turnaround as it plays host Germany on Monday. 

Canada 7, Slovenia 2

Jon Cooper-led Team Canada got its second win in as many games to open the World Championship following a 7-2 dismantling of Slovenia in Paris.

Canada moves to the top of the Group B standings with six points.

Brayden Point scored his first tournament goal to put Canada up 3-0 in the first period, Point's centering pass bouncing off the skate of Slovenia defenseman Luka Vidmar and into the goal.

Fellow Lightning teammate Alex Killorn had two shots in 15:34 time on ice.

Nathan MacKinnon scored a hat trick for Canada, which returns to action Monday when it plays winless Belarus.

United States 7, Denmark 2

The United States rebounded from an upset loss to Germany in its opening game to take care of Denmark 7-2 in Cologne. Clayton Keller netted a hat trick, and Anders Lee added a pair of goals to lead the Americans.

The United States (three points) is now tied with two other teams for third place in Group A (the top four teams in each group advance out of preliminary play to the quarterfinals) and returns to action Monday versus Sweden.

France 5, Finland 1

Host France scored an impressive 5-1 victory over Finland in Paris to earn its first tournament victory.

Antoine Roussel netted a pair of goals to pace France.

Finland drops to 1-1.

Latvia 3, Slovakia 1

In Cologne, Latvia scored three power-play goals to earn its second win of the tournament and pull into the lead in Group A with six points, one point ahead of Russia. Latvia has outscored opponents 6-1 over its first two tourney games.

Switzerland 3, Norway 0

Cody Almond, Pius Suter and Reto Schappi each scored for Switzerland in a 3-0 shutout of Norway in Paris. Switzerland, which won in a shootout on Saturday, ranks second in Group B with five points.

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