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Canada edges U.S., takes first place in Group A

by Adam Kimelman

Canada got a pair of goals 2:19 apart early in the third period to rally for a 3-2 win against the United States on Tuesday in the finale of preliminary-round play in Group A at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Nicolas Petan, Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar scored for Canada, and goalie Zachary Fucale stopped 24 shots in a game played at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden.

The win gave Canada first place in Group A and a spot in the quarterfinals Thursday against Switzerland (11 a.m. ET, NHLN-US), which finished fourth in Group B.

Canada has beaten the U.S. seven straight times in preliminary-round play, a stretch that dates to the 1999 World Junior Championship.

Riley Barber and Stefan Matteau scored for the Americans and goalie Jon Gillies made 21 saves. The U.S. finished second in Group A and will play Russia, the third-place team in Group B, on Thursday in the quarterfinals (6 a.m. ET, NHLN-US).

The game was tied 1-1 after two periods but Canada wasted little time continuing a surge that started in the second period when Canada outshot the Americans 11-6.

McDavid, the 16-year-old sensation touted as a candidate to be the first player picked in the 2015 NHL Draft, had seen his ice time cut due to a few penalties. However, he stepped up big Tuesday. Gillies stopped Joshua Morrissey's drive and then got a piece of Bo Horvat's shot in close on the rebound. Horvat and McDavid kept whacking away at the puck when the U.S. couldn't clear it and McDavid finally was able to pull the puck out of traffic and score at 3:54.

"I thought I've had a lot of chances, one called back last game," McDavid said on TSN. "Nice to get the first goal, but more importantly it's nice to get the win."

McDavid's goal marked the first time the Americans trailed in the tournament.

"I think that was as hard as we've had to play the entire tournament," U.S. coach Don Lucia told "Canada is going to force that type of game out of you. I thought we matched that intensity and played hard. I'll take the way we played today every night from here on out."

Moments later, Lazar capped a great piece of puck movement on a Canada power play at 6:13. Halfway through a tripping penalty on Matteau, Derrick Pouliot moved the puck from the blue line to Jonathan Drouin on left side of the ice. The Tampa Bay Lightning top prospect cut to the middle and dragged the puck around a sliding Connor Carrick to create space and sent a soft pass to Lazar, the Ottawa Senators draft pick, camped in front for a tap-in.

"I think losing the special teams battle was the key to the game," U.S. forward Andrew Copp told "Ultimately it was the difference. We couldn't kill off that one in the third. I thought we did a good job of fighting back, getting some good chances late, we just weren't able to capitalize."

The U.S. got back within a goal with 2:45 remaining on Matteau's goal. Hudson

Fasching raced the puck into Canadian end and centered it to Matteau who fired a shot that went off Fucale's glove and dropped in the crease. Adam Pelech tried diving in to clear the puck but inadvertently knocked it in as he tangled with Copp.

Lucia pulled Gillies with one minute left, but despite a furious late push the U.S. couldn't find the tying goal.

"It was a demanding game," Lucia told "There wasn't a lot of space. You had to fight for everything. I thought our guys for the most part did a good job. It just shows you that if you deviate in a small way in certain segments of the game, when you play really good teams they're going to capitalize. Canada is an outstanding team, their goaltender played very well. But I have no issues with the way we played, the way we competed. The only disappointment was we were a minus on specialty teams. You get to this point in the tournament it gets very difficult to win if you're going to be a minus on specialty teams."

The victory puts Canada in the same place it was a year ago, when a win against the U.S. led to the top spot in its Group. However, that ended poorly when Canada lost the rematch with the Americans in the semifinals en route to finishing fourth.

Griffin Reinhart, who returned Tuesday from serving the final three games of a suspension from last year's WJC, is one of three players who went through that disappointment in Ufa, Russia.

"We saw it last year, same thing," Reinhart said on TSN. "Won the pool, beat the U.S. and they came back and beat us in the semis. Right now this is over with. Have a good night here, enjoy New Year's dinner with the families, come back [Wednesday] and get ready for business."

After a scoreless first period that saw the United States outshoot Canada 13-6, Barber opened the scoring 3:29 into the second period. The teams were skating 4-on-4 when Nicolas Kerdiles' shot from the right side was blocked by Pelech. The puck bounced off the end boards behind the net and as it was bouncing back in front American defenseman Jaccob Slavin beat Horvat to it and tipped it back behind the goal to Barber. With Fucale looking the wrong way, Barber stepped in front and stuffed it inside the post for his fourth of the tournament.

Canada tied the game on Petan's third goal in two games and fourth of the tournament at 12:19. Canada's Charles Hudon was first on the forecheck on a dump-in deep in the American end. He forced Matthew Grzelcyk to spin the puck back up the wall along the right side and Anthony Mantha beat Slavin to it. The Detroit Red Wings prospect carried the puck to the net and was upended in the slot. The puck rolled off his stick to Petan, who had just jumped on the ice, and he scored into a nearly empty net as Gillies over-committed to stop Mantha.

Copp said the feeling in the locker room after the game wasn't one of disappointment. At the 2010 World Juniors the U.S. lost to Canada in overtime in the preliminary round and came back to beat them in the gold-medal game. It was a similar story at the 2013 WJC when the U.S. recovered from its loss to Canada in the round-robin portion of the tournament to beat the Canadians 5-1 in the rematch in the semifinals en route to winning the gold.

"There's no panic in our locker room at all," Copp said. "We're just going to be concentrating on the next game and whoever that might be and just trying to move past this. … We learned a lot about ourselves today, our resiliency and being able to fight back. I like where we're at going forward."

Sweden 3, Russia 2 -- Jacob de la Rose scored the game-winning goal with 2:21 remaining in regulation to give Sweden a victory against Russia in preliminary-round play in Group B.

"It feels really amazing right now," de la Rose told the IIHF website. "It was a great goal for us and we really needed it."

Andreas Johnson and Nick Sorensen also scored for Sweden, and goalie Oscar Dansk stopped 23 of 25 shots.

The win clinches the top spot in the group for Sweden and earned it a quarterfinal game against Slovakia on Thursday (1:30 p.m. ET, NHLN-US). Slovakia finished fourth in Group A following a 4-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

"Obviously our goal was to win the group," Sweden captain Filip Forsberg told the IIHF website. "Now we’ve done that. But now the tournament really starts with the playoff games. We have to get ready for the quarterfinal here."

Sweden led 2-0 after Johnson and Sorensen scored in the first period but Russia chipped away, getting a power-play goal from Alexander Barabanov at 4:47 of the second period to get within one, and then Mikhail Grigorenko scored at 11:52 of the third to tie the game.

The tie lasted until late in the period when de la Rose, a 2013 Montreal Canadiens second-round pick (No. 34) tipped a shot by Gustav Olofsson past Russian goalie Andrey Vasilevskiy for the tie-breaking goal.

Vasilevskiy, taken by the Tampa Bay Lightning with the 19th pick of the 2012 draft, stopped 29 of 32 shots.

"I thought we were really close to getting three points in this game," Grigorenko told the IIHF website. "It was 2-2 and Sweden was a little bit luckier than us at the end. I guess we had too many penalties. We can't really do that against teams like that."

Russia finished third in Group B and will play the United States on Thursday in the quarterfinals (6 a.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Czech Republic 4, Slovakia 1 -- David Pastrnak, a top prospect for the 2014 draft, had a goal and an assist to lead the Czechs on the final day of Group A preliminary-round play on Tuesday at Isstadion Malmo in Malmo, Sweden.

Martin Prochazka had a goal and two assists and Petr Sidlik and Ondrej Kase also scored for the Czechs. Goaltender Marek Langhamer, a Phoenix Coyotes prospect who plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League, made 31 saves.

The win boosted the Czechs to third place in Group A; they'll play Finland, the second-place team from Group B, in the quarterfinals Thursday (8:30 a.m. ET, NHLN-US).

Milan Kolena scored for Slovakia and Samuel Barros, who started in goal, allowed three goals on 11 shots. Slovakia finished fourth in Group A and will play Group B winner Sweden in the quarterfinals.

Pastrnak, who plays for Sodertalje in Sweden, earned an A ranking from NHL Central Scouting in its most recent player to watch list for this year's draft. He scored 18 seconds into the game, starting a four-goal run for the Czechs.

"It's Slovakia and against Czech, which is a great rivalry," Sidlik told the IIHF website. "They weren't going to just let us win or play lightly. We started well and came ready, so we played as we wanted."

Kase, another top 2014 draft prospect, made it 2-0 at 3:54 of the first, and then Prochazka scored two minutes into the third to make it 3-0.

Slovakia coach Ernest Bokros replaced Barros with Richard Sabol after the third goal, but the change did little to alter his team's fortunes, as 4:46 later Sidlik scored to make it 4-0.

Kolena scored his fourth goal of the tournament with four seconds remaining in the second period.

Now Slovakia faces the challenge of playing the host team in a single-elimination game.

"We have to be mentally prepared for the next game," Slovakia forward Martin Reway said. "There will be a lot of people there and some of our guys haven't played in front of 15,000 fans before. We have to be ready."

Switzerland 4, Finland 3 (SO) -- Claude Pascoud scored the only goal of a six-round shootout as Switzerland finished preliminary-round play in Group B with a shootout victory at Malmo Arena.

Flavio Schmutz, Fabrice Herzog and Nico Dunner scored in regulation for Switzerland. Goalie Melvin Nyffler stopped 37 of 40 shots in regulation and overtime, and made six saves in the shootout, including a pair on top Finnish scorer Teuvo Teravainen.

Switzerland, which finished fourth in the Group, next plays Canada in the quarterfinals Thursday (11 a.m. ET, NHLN-US).

"I'm glad we got the win because it's important to have a good feeling before the quarterfinals," Switzerland forward Marco Muller told the IIHF website. "I hope we can go on like this in the game against Canada."

Ville Pokka, Aleksi Mustonen and Saku Maenalanen scored for Finland. Ville Husso started in goal and made 15 saves on 18 shots.

Switzerland led 3-1 in the second after Herzog and Dunner scored 2:54 apart early in the period. Mustonen scored at 10:29 to make it 3-2, then Maenalanen, a Nashville Predators draft pick, re-directed a Teravainen shot 35 shots into the third to tie it.

Juuse Saros, who replaced Husso halfway through the game and stopped 15 of 16 shots, made the tie hold up through overtime and the shootout.

"We didn't play the way we wanted but we got one point and second place in the group," Pokka, a New York Islanders prospect, told the IIHF website. "We have to keep looking forward to the quarterfinals."

Finland finished second in Group B and will face the Czech Republic on Thursday in the quarterfinals (8:30 a.m., NHLN-US). It's a far better outcome so far for Finland compared to last year, when they missed medal play and were dropped to the relegation pool.

Finland played Tuesday without top defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (illness) and top-line forward Artturi Lehkonen (leg), who was hurt Monday against Russia.


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