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Canada finishes atop group at Worlds; U.S. also wins @NHLdotcom

Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward scored his second power-play goal with 9:17 remaining in the third period to help rally Canada to a 3-2 victory against Norway in the final game of preliminary-round action at the 2014 IIHF World Championship at Chizhovka Arena in Belarus on Tuesday.

The victory enabled Canada (6-1, 18 points) to claim the top seed in the eight-team Group A field. Canada will face Finland in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The win also assures Canada will not have to face unbeaten Russia unless both teams advance to the gold-medal game on Sunday.

Canada, which outshot the Norwegians 42-16, also received a goal by Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets), and James Reimer (Toronto Maple Leafs) made 14 saves.

"It was a long game but we weren't down and out or anything," Ward told the IIHF website. "We felt good about ourselves. We had a lot of chances, a lot of shots. We had some power plays. We just got to capitalize on special teams."

Norway (2-5, seven points) opened a 1-0 lead in the first when captain Anders Bastiansen scored a power-play goal at 13:05. Norwegian goalie Steffan Soberg made 39 saves.

"It was one of those games where you really just have to grind it out and battle, because they protect so well," Reimer said. "They collapse so well. Sometimes you just pass the puck around the outside but you can't really get to the good scoring areas. We're just happy that we grinded this one out."

Ward evened the score 3:36 into the second when he converted feeds from Sean Monahan (Calgary Flames) and Ryan Ellis (Nashville Predators) with his team on the man advantage. Norway took its second lead when Mads Hansen scored at 12:16 before Scheifele pulled the Canadians into a 2-2 tie 4:09 later off assists by Kevin Biesksa (Vancouver Canucks) and Ward.

Bieksa had an apparent power-play goal in the first waved off for goaltender interference.

Ward gave Canada the lead for good when he took a pass from behind the net by Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers) and deposited his sixth goal of the tournament.

Canada was without forward Alexandre Burrows (Vancouver Canucks) a second straight game after he sustained a charley horse following a knee-on-knee hit Friday against Italy.

United States 5, Germany 4: Justin Abdelkader (Detroit Red Wings) scored his second goal with 4:16 remaining in the third to give the Americans a 5-3 advantage in preliminary-round play at Minsk Arena.

The victory moved the United States (5-2, 14 points) into second place in Group B ahead of Belarus (4-2, 12 points), which must still play Russia on Tuesday. The Americans will play their quarterfinal-round match on Thursday against an opponent to be determined.

Hobey Baker Award-winner Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames) had a goal and three assists and defenseman Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs) chipped in with two assists in a game that the United States never trailed.

German forward Leon Draisaitl, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, had a goal and two assists.

Abdelkader, who has three goals and four points in six games, praised Gaudreau (two goals, 10 points).

"He is a really good hockey player," Abdelkader told the IIHF website. "He finds the open areas on the ice and sees the ice so well. When he gets time and space on the ice he is dangerous. I think his game has gotten better as we've gone through the tournament here and his confidence has grown and he's played well because of it. He's deadly when he has the puck on his stick."

Coach Peter Laviolette had similar praise.

"This is my first opportunity to work with Johnny. He has been an important player on this team and is very talented," Laviolette said. "He's an even better person. He displays such incredible talent and is such a smart player. That's why he's on the ice with two minutes left in the game."

After a scoreless first, the teams combined for six goals in the second when the U.S. outshot Germany 15-9. Abdelkader gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead at 1:44 before Germany's Alexander Weiss tied the game at 3:32. Drew Shore (Florida Panthers) gave the Americans a 2-1 lead with a shorthanded goal at 7:18 before Germany again responded on a power-play goal by Kai Hospelt at 10:29. The United States then responded with a power-play goal by defenseman Matt Donovan (New York Islanders) at 12:53 and Draisaitl pulled his team even once against at 15:13.

The U.S. took control in the third when Gaudreau scored a power-play goal at 2:24 before Abdelkader's late goal. Tobias Rieder (Phoenix Coyotes) scored on the power play with his goalie pulled for an extra attacker with 1:57 left in regulation to complete the scoring.

Goalie Tim Thomas (Dallas Stars) made 24 saves to earn his fifth victory in seven starts at the tournament.

"We are here to win a gold medal," defenseman Seth Jones (Nashville Predators) said. "That's the bottom line and whether we do it is up to how we play. We're not worried about any other teams."

Slovakia 4, Denmark 3: Tomas Tatar (Detroit Red Wings) scored his second goal with 5:43 remaining in the third to give Slovakia a 4-2 lead on the final day of preliminary-round action in Group A at Chizhovka Arena. Neither team will advance to the quarterfinal round.

It marks the first time the Slovaks did not finish preliminary-round action in the top eight under coach Vladimir Vujtek. In 2011 they finished 10th as the host country under now-Belarus coach Glen Hanlon.

"It was a pretty good game," Tatar told the IIHF website. "It was hard to find motivation for it. We didn't really have much to lose, but still, it's different to end up the world championship with a win than to go home with a loss. It makes a difference for the ranking as well."

Slovakia (3-4, 10 points) received third-period goals by Michel Miklik, Marek Viedensky (San Jose Sharks) and Tatar. Jesper Jensen scored with 5:35 left to pull Denmark within 4-3 but Slovakia held on behind goalie Jan Laco (27 saves). Mikkel Boedker (Phoenix Coyotes) and Morten Green also scored for Denmark (2-5, five points).

The three best players of the tournament for each team were named at the end of the game. Laco, Marek Daloga and Miklik were named for Slovakia, and Jannik Hansen (Vancouver Canucks), Emil Kristensen and Patrick Bjorkstrand were honored for Denmark.

Switzerland 3, Latvia 2: Yannick Weber (Vancouver Canucks) scored 27 seconds into the second to give the Swiss a 3-0 lead in preliminary-round play at Minsk Arena.

The loss eliminated Latvia (3-4, nine points) from advancing in the World Championship and boosted Finland (4-3, 11 points) into the fourth spot in Group B and into the quarterfinal round against Canada on Thursday. Switzerland (3-4, 10 points) is eliminated from quarterfinal-round participation.

Damien Brunner (New Jersey Devils) and Dominik Schlumpf scored the other goals for Switzerland, which received a 26-save performance by Reto Berra (Colorado Avalanche). Koba Jass and Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres) scored for Latvia.

Czech Republic 5, France 4: Jan Kolar scored 2:19 into overtime on the final day of preliminary-round action at Chizhovka Arena.

The overtime goal capped a furious rally by the Czech Republic, which overcame a 3-0 deficit. The country will next face the United States in the quarterfinal round on Thursday. France will play unbeaten Russia in another quarterfinal.

Julien Desrosiers scored twice and Laurent Meunier once in the first period when France took a 3-0 lead. Vladimir Sobotka (St. Louis Blues) scored with 42 seconds remaining in the first to pare the deficit to 3-1. The Czechs took a 4-3 lead in the second on goals by Jiri Sekac, Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey Devils) and Martin Zatovic.

Antoine Roussel (Dallas Stars) evened the score for France on a power-play goal in third at 2:36. Czech goalie Alexander Salak made 20 saves and France goalie Florian Hardy made 34 saves.

Russia 2, Belarus 1: Sergei Plotnikov and Vadim Shipachyov each had a goal and one assist in the second when Russia built a 2-0 lead in preliminary-round play at Minsk Arena.

Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) made 19 saves for Russia, which finished atop the Group B standings and will face France in the tournament quarterfinal round on Thursday. Belarus will play Sweden in their quarterfinal-round matchup.

Belarus goalies Vitali Koval and Kevin Lalande combined for 25 saves. Lalande (11 shots, 11 saves) replaced Koval (16 shots, 14 saves) after Shipachyov's goal in the second at 15:47.

Vladimir Denisov had pulled Belarus within 2-1 when he scored with 4:11 left in regulation, but Russia held on for its seventh straight regulation victory at the tournament. The Russians have outscored the opposition 31-7 at the 2014 World Championship.

Russia was without captain Alex Ovechkin, who sustained a right knee injury Sunday against Germany. The game did mark the tournament debut of Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins), who took one shot and won 59 percent of his face-offs in 14:44 of ice time.

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