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Canada caps perfect preliminary round with 3-2 win over United States

NHL.com @NHL

EDMONTON - Canada went unbeaten through the preliminary round of the world junior hockey championship, capping it with a 3-2 win over the United States on Saturday.

Mark Stone led the hosts with a goal and an assist. Jaden Schwartz and Brett Connolly also scored for Canada in front of 16,647 at Rexall Place.

Charlie Coyle and captain Jason Zucker replied for the U.S. in the third period.

Canadian goaltender Scott Wedgewood stopped 30-of-32 shots for his second win of the tournament, while U.S. counterpart Jack Campbell made 32 saves.

Canada (4-0) had secured first in Pool B and a bye to the semifinals heading into the game, while the U.S. (1-3) already knew it was headed for relegation round.

So what had been billed as the New Year's Eve showdown lacked urgency. Bursts of spirited play and flashes of ill-will between the North American rivals were mixed with lulls and stretches that looked like shinny.

Canada outscored its opposition 26-5 in the preliminary round.

Finland (3-1) secured second place in Pool B with a 4-0 win Saturday over the Czechs (2-2), who finished third.

As Pool B wrapped up in Edmonton, Russia and Sweden were meeting in Calgary to decide first place in Pool A. Slovakia secured third in the pool and a quarter-final berth with a 6-4 win over the Swiss earlier.

The U.S., Denmark, Switzerland and Latvia fall to the relegation round.

Canada scored three in the first period and looked ready to cruise to victory until the U.S. score twice within a four-minute-span starting at 9:49 of the third. The Canadian were scrambling to preserve the win in the final minutes.

Zucker, behind the net, put the puck off the back of Wedgewood and into the net at 13:12.

Coyle, who played Boston University, will become a Saint John Sea Dogs teammate of Canada's Jonathan Huberdeau and Nathan Beaulieu after the world junior championship.

His shot at the faceoff circle from behind a screen beat Wedgewood far side at 9:49 for the Americans' first goal.

Canada was unable to convert a two-man advantage at the end of the second period, but killed off almost a minute of an American five-on-three to start the third.

The U.S. began picking up the pace in the second period, outshooting Canada 12-8 while providing some fireworks.

American forward Emerson Etem and Wedgewood got in a footrace for a loose puck in the zone. After Wedgewood cleared the puck, the Medicine Hat Tiger submarined him.

Wedgewood sprawled on the ice and was slow to get up, but returned to the net. Also, Canadian defenceman Scott Harrington left the ice in the first half of the game and did not return.

The Americans allowed Canada the run of the offensive zone in the first period. The host country outshot led 3-0 on a 19-8 margin in shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brett Connolly scored Canada's third goal in the first period. On a two-on-one with Quinton Howden, Connolly beat Campbell with a low shot far side at 15:59.

Schwartz scored his first goal of the tournament thanks to some hard work along the back boards by Stone. Stone fed the puck to Schwartz on Campbell's doorstep and the captain made it 2-0 at 10:12.

Stone and his set-up man Huberdeau opened the scoring at 5:39. Dougie Hamilton sent the puck to Huberdeau in the corner and he put the puck on Stone's tape for a power-play goal at 5:39.

Notes: Canada is 31-6-3 all time versus the U.S. at the world junior hockey championship . . . Barry Kazimer of Campbell River, B.C., put 11-of-20 pucks in the net to win three electric cars ??? one for himself and two relatives ??? in the Chevrolet Volt Million Dollar Shootout, but he needed to put 15 or more in to win $1 million.

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