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After two periods, United States holds 2-1 lead

by Mike G. Morreale

It was only a matter of time before Rocco Grimaldi made his presence felt for the United States at the 2013 IIFH World Junior Championship.

It happened in the second period of the gold-medal game against defending champion Sweden in Ufa, Russia, on Saturday.

Grimaldi, who was removed from the team's top line four games ago, scored a pair of second-period goals to rally the Americans to a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of action at Ufa Arena.

Grimaldi's second of the game came off a fabulous tip in the slot. Jacob Trouba unleashed a slap shot from the right point that Grimaldi deftly deflected past Swedish goalie Niklas Lundstrom 10:27 into the middle period to give the United States its first lead.

The Swedes came close to squaring the contest while shorthanded when Anaheim Ducks prospect William Karlsson broke in on U.S. goalie John Gibson off a turnover, but was denied with just under five minutes left in the second.

The United States pulled into a 1-1 tie 7:42 into the second when Grimaldi connected for his first of the tournament on a great individual effort. The Florida Panthers prospect raced to a loose puck behind Sweden's net before skating out beyond the left post and firing a shot that skittered over Niklas Lundstrom's right pad before dropping over the line.

Both goalies have performed well for their countries. U.S. goalie John Gibson has 16 saves and Lundstrom has made 19 saves.

Sweden opened a 1-0 edge 1:09 into the second on Filip Sandberg's second goal of the tournament. While working its second power play of the game, Trouba attempted to swat the puck out of the zone from the right corner but the Swedes picked it up before Sandberg located the puck between the circles in prime scoring position.

His quick wrist shot beat Gibson on his glove side just under the crossbar.

The Swedes were forced to kill off a pair of power plays by the United States in the opening period, including a two-man advantage for 35 seconds with Jeremy Boyce Rotevall (interference) and Viktor Arvidsson (high sticking) in the box. Lundstrom had a strong first period, turning aside 11 shots, including J.T. Miller's rebound attempt with the U.S. on a 5-on-4 advantage.

With 7:40 remaining in the first Grimaldi skated down his left wing and released a shot that rang off the post to Lundstrom's blocker side.

"We've got to keep the puck moving," U.S. defenseman Seth Jones told NHL Network in the first intermission. "[Goalie John] Gibson has done a nice job talking to us while they're on the forecheck. We have to play patient and get bodies in front of their goalie."

The United States denied Sweden's first power-play attempt 13:32 into the first when team goal-scoring leader John Gaudreau was whistled for hooking. The United States has been exceptional on the penalty-kill at the WJC. The country didn't allow a power-play goal against Germany, held Canada scoreless with the man advantage twice and the Czech Republic, while allowing single power-play markers to Russia and Slovakia.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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