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Eichel's OT goal helps U.S. clinch top spot in Group B

by Staff /

Jack Eichel, a top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, scored with 28 seconds left in overtime to help the United States rally for a 5-4 victory against Slovakia on Tuesday in a Group B preliminary-round game at the 2015 IIHF World Championship at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

The U.S. led 3-0 27 seconds into the second period on a goal by Anders Lee (New York Islanders), but Slovakia scored four straight to take the lead. Charlie Coyle (Minnesota Wild) tied the game with 52 seconds left in the second when he scored off the rebound of a shot by Zach Redmond (Colorado Avalanche).

After a scoreless third period, time was running down in overtime when Eichel, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked North American skater for the 2015 NHL Draft, scored the winner unassisted.

Eichel played a long pass by Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes) in the Slovakia zone, spun away from Slovakia's Adam Janosik in the left corner, got to the top of the left circle and fired a shot that went through a screen by forward Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings) and past goaltender Julius Hudacek.

"It was great to get the goal there," Eichel told the IIHF website. "That was a great play by Faulk to get the puck up and I don't think the goalie even saw it."

Eichel and Lee each had a goal and an assist for the U.S. Seth Jones (Nashville Predators) and Ben Smith (San Jose Sharks) also scored. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets) made 21 saves.

The victory clinched the top spot in Group B for the U.S. (5-1-0-1, 17 points) and a game against Switzerland on Thursday in the quarterfinals at CEZ Arena.

Marian Gaborik (Los Angeles Kings) and Vladimir Dravecky each had a goal and an assist for Slovakia. Adam Janosik and Milan Bartovic also scored. Goaltenders Jan Laco and Hudacek combined for 29 saves.

Slovakia finished fifth in the group standings with nine points (1-2-2-2).

Smith got the U.S. going 2:36 into the game with a goal before Jones scored at 4:11 off a set-up by Eichel, which ended Laco's game.

Slovakia went on the attack after Lee's goal put the U.S. ahead 3-0 early in the second. Gaborik scored a power-play goal, and then Janosik's shot went off the stick of U.S. forward Brock Nelson (New York Islanders) and past Hellebuyck to make it 3-2.

With 3:32 left in the second, a shot by Slovakia's Marek Daloga hit U.S. defenseman Mike Reilly (Columbus Blue Jackets) and bounced to Dravecky, who scored to tie the game. Bartovic broke in 1:55 later and beat Hellebuyck to give Slovakia the 4-3 lead.

Coyle's goal in the final minute tied the score and gave the U.S. some momentum going into the third; the U.S. outshot Slovakia 9-2 in the period.

"For whatever reason it seems that second periods have been a struggle for us," Lewis said. "We definitely have to clean that up moving forward, but Charlie's goal in the second was huge for us."

Finland 3, Russia 2 (SO): Forward Joonas Donskoi scored the only goal in the shootout to help Finland to the victory in a Group B preliminary-round game at CEZ Arena.

Donskoi scored with less three minutes remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Finland forward Aleksander Barkov (Florida Panthers) had a goal and an assist, and goalie Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) made 33 saves. Finland finished second in Group B and will play host Czech Republic, which finished third in Group A, in a quarterfinal game in Prague on Thursday.

Sergei Mozyakin and Artemi Panarin scored for Russia, which finished third in Group B. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) made 27 saves.

Russia will play Sweden, which finished second in Group A, in the quarterfinals in Ostrava on Thursday.

Belarus 3, Norway 2: Alexei Kalyuzhny had a goal and two assists, and Andrei Kostistyn had a goal and an assist to help Belarus to the win in a Group B preliminary-round game at CEZ Arena.

Dmitri Korobov also had a goal for Belarus, and goaltender Kevin Lalande made 22 saves.

Belarus (4-0-2-1) finished fourth in Group B and will play Canada, the winner of Group A, in the quarterfinals on Thursday at O2 Arena in Prague.

Patrick Thoresen had a goal and an assist for Norway, and Mattias Norstebo also scored. Goalie Lars Haugen made 14 saves. Norway (2-0-0-5) finished sixth in Group B with six points.

Belarus took a 3-0 lead on Kostitsyn's power-play goal at 12:03 of the third but Norway rallied with a goal by Thoresen 17 seconds later. Norstebo's goal made it 3-2 at 5:13 of the third but that was as close as Norway was able to get despite outshooting Belarus 16-4 in the third period.

"We were looking good at 3-0 but Norway are a good team and they came back hard," Belarus forward Andrei Stepanov told the IIHF website. "It was hard at the end. We didn't have a lot of time to recover after yesterday's game [a 3-2 shootout loss to Finland]."

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