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Belarus upsets United States at World Championship

by Staff /

Belarus scored three goals in the second period and defeated the United States 5-2 on Thursday in a Group B preliminary-round game at the 2015 IIHF World Championship played at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Artur Gavrus, Artem Volkov and Alexander Kitarov scored in a span of 4:55 midway through the second period. Alexei Kalyuzhny scored two goals in the third period, and goaltender Kevin Lalande made 28 saves.

"They came after us early but Lalande made some timely saves," Belarus coach Dave Lewis told the IIHF website. "We did not settle into the game until the second period."

Brock Nelson (New York Islanders) and Torey Krug (Boston Bruins) scored for the United States, and Jack Eichel, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked North American skater for the 2015 NHL Draft, had two assists. Goaltender Jack Campbell (Dallas Stars) made 18 saves.

The win gives Belarus 10 points (3-0-1-0) and possession of first place in Group B. The U.S. (3-0-0-1) slipped into a three-way tie for second with nine points.

"We just let them have too much possession," Eichel said, according to the IIHF website. "We had a couple of mishaps in the offensive zone that led to them getting odd-man breaks, and they took advantage of that."

Gavrus opened the scoring when he beat Campbell high to the stick side off the rush at 11:11 of the second. Volkov's goal at 13:01 made it 2-0. After serving a tripping penalty, Kitarov came out of the penalty box, picked up a loose puck, broke in alone on Campbell and scored at 16:06.

Nelson made it 3-1 at 17:21 of the second off a sensational setup by Eichel, who picked up the puck at the Belarus blue line. He drove to the net and backhanded a pass through the slot to an open Nelson.

But any momentum from that goal disappeared early in the third when Kalyuzhny scored at 1:15 during a 5-on-3 power play. Krug's power-play goal at 5:35 got the U.S. within 4-2, but Kalyuzhny scored again at 8:23 to restore Belarus' three-goal lead.

"It's a letdown after the Russia game [a 4-2 win Monday]," Eichel said. "That was an emotional win, but every game means a lot so this is a tough one to take."

The U.S. plays Friday against Denmark; Belarus plays Saturday against Russia.

Finland 4, Slovenia 0: Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) made 13 saves in a Group B preliminary-round game against Slovenia at CEZ Arena.

It was Rinne's third straight shutout; he hasn't allowed a goal in 193 minutes, 41 seconds, dating to the third period of Finland's 5-1 loss to the United States on the first day of the tournament.

Joonas Kemppainen had a goal and an assist. Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers), Petri Kontiola and Leo Komarov (Toronto Maple Leafs) also scored.

Slovenia goaltender Gasper Kroselj made 29 saves. Forward Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings) was minus-1 with no shots on goal in 18:10 of ice time.

The victory gave Finland (3-0-0-1) nine points, tied for second in Group B with the United States and Russia, one point behind Belarus. Its next game is Saturday against Slovakia.

Slovenia (0-0-0-4) lost its fourth straight game in regulation and is the only team in the tournament with zero points. It plays Norway on Friday.

Czech Republic 5, France 1: Jaromir Jagr (Florida Panthers) had a goal to help the Czech Republic defeat France in a Group A preliminary-round game at O2 Arena in Prague.

Ondrej Nemec had two goals and an assist, Roman Cervenka and Vladimir Sobotka also scored and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg Jets) made 19 saves for the Czech Republic.

Kevin Hecquefeuille scored for France. Goaltender Florian Hardy made 41 saves.

The host team led 2-1 after two periods but blew the game open with three goals in the third, starting at 4:25 when Jagr banged in the rebound of a shot by Jan Kovar. At age 43, Jagr is the oldest player to score in a World Championship game, according to the IIHF.

Four minutes later, Tomas Hertl (San Jose Sharks) set up Nemec for his second goal of the game. Cervenka completed the scoring with 5:08 left.

The Czech Republic (2-0-1-1), fourth in Group A with seven points, plays Friday against Austria; France (1-0-0-3, three points) plays Group A leader Canada on Saturday.

Sweden 4, Germany 3: Defenseman John Klingberg (Dallas Stars) scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period to lead Sweden in a Group A preliminary-round game at O2 Arena.

Klingberg got to the front of Germany's net and tipped a shot by Staffan Kronwall past goalie Timo Pielmeier at 2:56 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie

Oscar Moller had two goals and two assists for Sweden, including an insurance goal at 8:40. Joakim Lindstrom (Toronto Maple Leafs) had one goal and two assists, and goaltender Jhonas Enroth (Dallas Stars) made 24 saves.

Marcus Kink, Nicolas Krammer and Matthias Plachta scored for Germany. Pielmeier made 31 saves.

Sweden (3-1-0-1) has 11 points, one less than Group A leader Canada, and plays Switzerland on Saturday. Germany (1-0-0-3, three points) faces Latvia on Friday.

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