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Canada clinches top spot in group with 5-1 win @NHLdotcom

Ryan O'Reilly
scored a pair of goals and Canada was able to clinch the top spot in the Helsinki group with a 5-1 win over Belarus on Tuesday, making them a tournament favorite heading into the 2012 IIHF World Hockey Championship quarterfinals, which start Thursday.

Anaheim Ducks teammates Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf scored 3:36 apart in the second period as Canada took control of the game, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a power-play goal.

O'Reilly opened the scoring just 2:16 into the game, taking a perfect cross-ice pass from Andrew Ladd and wiring a shot past Belarus goaltender Dmitri Milchakov. Canada (6-0-1) appeared posed to close out the tournament preliminary round right then and there, but Sergei Kostitsyn, who joined Belarus (1-6-0) at the tournament with his brother Andrei just days earlier, beat Cam Ward to tie the game.

Canada flipped the switch in the second. Perry scored his third goal of the tournament with Alexei Kalyuzhni in the penalty box for hooking and Getzlaf, who is serving as team captain, doubled the Canada lead by battling through a goalmouth scramble to put the puck into the net.

Belarus began losing its composure shortly after that. Just 46 seconds after Getzlaf's goal, Andrei Kostitsyn rode Evander Kane from behind into the boards, receiving a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct on the play. It didn't take long for Canada to take advantage, as Nugent-Hopkins scored just 39 seconds into the man advantage, setting off a rough exchange that resulted in more penalties, including a 10-minute misconduct to Nikolai Stasenko.

Following a dominating second frame in which they outshot Belarus 13-5, Canada effectively put the game out of reach in the third, when O'Reilly scored his second of the game, firing a perfect snapshot off another feed from Ladd. The Colorado forward's second goal made him the leader of a contingent of five Canadian players who finished the game with two points.

Canadian defensemen Luke Schenn and Marc Methot both received boarding majors and game misconducts late, incidents that can be reviewed by the IIHF for supplementary discipline.

United States 5, Switzerland 2

Paul Stastny had a goal and two assists while Max Pacioretty and Bobby Ryan both enjoyed two-point games as the United States topped Switzerland 5-2 to secure second place behind Canada.

Already guaranteed a spot in the tournament quarterfinals, the Americans came out a little flat against Switzerland, which was playing a meaningless game after being eliminated from the quarterfinal for the second straight year.

Following a scoreless first period in which they were outshot 8-6, the United States fell behind just 20 seconds into the second period when Ivo Ruthemann beat goaltender Jimmy Howard. But the Americans would respond quickly, scoring 2:18 later, just seven seconds after a hooking penalty to Luca Sbisa expired. The goal came courtesy of Ryan, who made a beautiful move, playing the puck from his skate on to his stick before beating Reto Berra for his fourth goal of the tournament. With an assist on the play, Pacioretty earned at least one point in every tournament game, putting him among the top five in tournament scoring.

Cam Fowler gave the United States a lead they wouldn't relinquish with 3:08 remaining in the period and Paul Stastny scored on the power play early in the third, with Ryan and Pacioretty both assisting on the goal. Just 42 seconds later, Alex Goligoski would effectively ice the game when he found the back of the net. The teams would trade goals in the final minutes, by which time the contest was already decided.

Not only did the win give the Americans a second-place finish in their group, but their 32 goals scored in the first round was the highest total for an American team in 20 years. What's more, the six wins in the opening round are the most for an American team since 1990. The victory secured a quarterfinal matchup for the United States against tournament co-host and defending world champion Finland, who the Americans dismantled 5-0 on Sunday.

Czech Republic 8, Germany 1

The Czechs secured their place in the tournament quarterfinals with a resounding win over a German team that lost its last two games of the tournament by a combined score of 20-5.

Petr Koukal scored twice for the Czech Republic, which momentarily appeared to be in tough against an upstart Germany squad. After Ales Hemsky opened the scoring just 1:58 into the game, Thomas Greilinger tied things up while Czech defenseman Tomas Mojzis was serving a holding penalty. But the game would get no closer for the Germans, who allowed seven unanswered goals, including four power-play markers and a shorthanded tally by David Krejci.

Czech goaltender Jakub Stepanek made 15 saves, including one on a penalty shot against Christoph Schubert, before being rested in order to give young Petr Mrazek some ice time. Mrazek, who was named top goaltender at the 2012 World Junior Championship, stopped both shots he faced.

Slovakia 5, France 4

Branko Radivojevic finished with three points, including the game-winning goal, as Slovakia clinched a spot in the tournament quarterfinals with a tightly-fought win over France, which made a surprising run in the tournament but will finish out of the playoff round while avoiding relegation.

Radivojevic took over in a tight-checking third, scoring twice, including his game-winner on the power play. A former member of the Coyotes, Flyers, and Wild, Radivojevic finished the preliminary round leading his team with four goals and tied with Andrej Sekera for the team lead with seven points.

Slovakia took control early, with Milan Bartovic beating French goaltender Cristobal Huet 2:36 into the game. Tomas Kopecky doubled the lead minutes later while both teams played 4-on-4 following penalties to Michal Sersen and Laurent Meuniers, but Yorick Treille replied just 21 seconds later. With five minutes remaining in a wide-open first period, Teddy da Costa scored to tie the game.

While the teams combined for 24 shots in a wild second, they could only muster one goal each, with Damien Fleury tying the game 3-3 with 39 seconds remaining in the period.

Norway 6, Denmark 2

Patrick Thoresen continued his blazing scoring pace, scoring once and adding three assists as he led Norway into the tournament playoff round with a 6-2 win over Denmark.

With his four points, Thoresen finished the preliminary round with six goals and eight assists, vaulting him ahead of Evgeni Malkin's 14 points for the tournament scoring lead. The KHL veteran, who has previously played with the Oilers and Flyers, finished the preliminary round with 14 points in his last four games.

Following a scoreless first period in which each team successfully killed off a single two-minute minor penalty, Norway came out firing in the second. Lars Erik Spets, Morten Ask, and Per-Afe Skroder scored in a 9:23 span that saw the Norwegians wrestle the game away from Denmark.

That scoring binge inspired some undisciplined play from the Danes, whose tournament was already over heading into the game. A rough confrontation less than two minutes after Skroder made it 3-0 led to 35 minutes in penalties being handed out, including a game misconduct to Jannik Hansen.

Norway put the game completely out of reach on the ensuing power play, scoring twice, including Thoresen's sixth of the tournament with 21 seconds left in the second. Denmark would gain some measure of redemption by scoring two goals to open the third, but things continued to get rough on the ice when Mats Trygg scored the final goal of the game. Just minutes after Trygg's marker, Lars Eller and Norwegian captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen had an exchange that resulted in both players receiving game misconducts.

Sweden 4, Latvia 0

Henrik Zetterberg provided a goal and two assists and Johan Franzen contributed a goal and an assist in his first game back from injury to secure Sweden's second-place finish in the Stockholm group.

After breaking his nose in a Friday loss to Russia and missing Sweden's 4-0 win over Italy on Saturday, Franzen returned to the lineup and was immediately placed back on the team's top line alongside Zetterberg and Loui Eriksson, who beat Maris Jucers 4:39 into the first to open the scoring. Jakob Silfverberg doubled the Swedish lead 10 minutes later while Kaspar Daugavins served a penalty for tripping.

After outshooting the Latvians 14-6 in the first, Sweden continued to dominate their opponent, with Zetterberg scoring his second of the tournament in the middle period, again with Daugavins in the penalty box serving a two-minute tripping minor.

Zetterberg and Karlsson set up Franzen's goal on a third-period power play after Latvia's Koba Jass received a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging Erik Karlsson.

Viktor Fasth finished with 22 saves for his second straight shutout. The Swedes have now gone two full games without allowing a goal, but it was their offense, which finished with 40 shots on net, and their potent power play that led the charge Tuesday to help secure a quarterfinal matchup against the Czechs.

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