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Five things learned from Day 2 of World Juniors

by Adam Kimelman

Sweden forward William Nylander won't play Monday against the United States (9 a.m. ET; NHLN) because of a head injury, but a team doctor said Sunday there's hope the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect will play again at some point during the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Nylander left Sweden's 8-3 win Saturday against Switzerland at 15:37 of the first period after a check to the head by Switzerland forward Chris Egli. Egli received a game misconduct for the hit, and Sunday he received a three-game suspension from the World Junior Championship Disciplinary Panel.

"[Nylander] is walking around. He's at the hotel. Let's see how he does [Monday]," Sweden team doctor Per Adolf Bergsten told TSN on Sunday. "We'll take it day by day. Today is a rest day. He can't skate tomorrow. Hopefully he'll be back in the tournament. We have a timeline but I can't tell you what it is."

Sweden forward Alexander Nylander, William's brother and an A-rated prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, said in a video published by TSN: "He's feeling better today. Hopefully he can recover and be back as soon as possible. … Hopefully he can be back for [the quarterfinals]."

After playing the U.S., Sweden's final two games in the preliminary round are against Denmark on Wednesday and Canada on Thursday.

"I hoped to have him back [Monday] but that's not going to happen," Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg told the Toronto Star. "It's one dynamic player away from the tournament, which is too bad for the crowd. It was an unnecessary hit to the head."

Here are five things we learned on the second day of action in the World Junior Championship:

Denmark does it again: Denmark rallied from a 1-0 third-period deficit for a 2-1 win against Switzerland in a Group A preliminary-round game Sunday. It's Denmark's second ever preliminary-round win at the WJC, and both have come against Switzerland. Denmark won 4-3 in a shootout at the 2015 WJC.

Soren Nielsen's goal 1:17 into the third tied the game 1-1, and Mathias From, a C-rated prospect for the 2016 draft, scored the go-ahead goal 6:20 into the third period.

"We knew from the beginning that if we kept going the whole game we would have a good chance of winning," Denmark center Alexander True said. "… Last year we played so well against a lot of the top teams that it gave us more confidence this year. We know we can win every game we go into."

Denmark plays Canada on Monday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN).

Shorthanded Switzerland: Besides Egli, Switzerland had two other players suspended for the game against Denmark.

Forward Calvin Thurkauf received a one-game suspension for a boarding incident at 11:12 of the second period that injured Sweden forward Adrian Kempe (Los Angeles Kings). Kempe did not return to the game but TSN reported Sunday he will likely be available Monday against the United States.

Defenseman Fabian Heldner received an automatic one-game suspension for a match penalty assessed in the first period against Sweden because of a check to the head.

Noah Rod (San Jose Sharks) scored for Switzerland, which had 17 skaters in the lineup because of the suspensions: 11 forwards and six defensemen.

Belarus gives wrong kind of effort: Belarus lost 4-2 to Slovakia on Sunday in Group B, its second defeat in as many days. Belarus goalie Ivan Kulbakov made 27 saves, but it's one he didn't make that earned him the wrong kind of attention.

Belarus trailed 3-2 and had pulled Kulbakov out for an extra attacker in the final minute of the third period. But when Slovakia's Juraj Siska got loose on a breakaway with 19 seconds left, Kulbakov jumped off the bench and tried to break up the play.

Siska stickhandled around the falling goaltender and scored, but referees already had awarded him the goal. To make matters worse, Kulbakov sustained an injury on the play. Vladislav Verbitski took over in goal for the final seconds of the game.

Pastrnak Czech-ing in: Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak could be in the Czech Republic lineup Monday against Slovakia (3:30 p.m. ET; NHLN). The Bruins made Pastrnak available for the tournament Sunday after the NHL roster freeze ended.

Pastrnak, who has two goals and four points in 10 games, injured his right foot Oct. 31 and did not play until a recent two-game conditioning stint with Providence of the American Hockey League.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said he's hoping Pastrnak uses the WJC as a springboard to a successful season, similar to what he did after returning to Boston from the 2015 WJC. After he had seven points in five games at the tournament, Pastrnak had 10 goals and 26 points in 41 games with the Bruins.

"We think that based on last year, his experience there in the tournament, the confidence that he had, that he'll come back to the full level that he really had gotten to last year, impacting our lineup," Sweeney told the Bruins website. "I think the opportunity for him to go play really heavy minutes in all situations, at a very, very high level, competitive level, against his peers … I think it's a great opportunity for him."

Canada's new-look top line: Canada coach Dave Lowry shifted left wing Brendan Perlini (Arizona Coyotes) to the top line alongside center Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes) and right wing Mitchell Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs) at practice Sunday.

Lowry put that line together in the third period of Canada's 4-2 loss to the United States on Saturday. John Quenneville (New Jersey Devils) had started the game there.

"He's a big body (6-foot-2, 212 pounds) that skates well, gets in on the forecheck and he's not afraid to shoot the puck," Lowry told Sportsnet regarding Perlini. "He gets himself into the areas to get opportunities. He was reluctant [to shoot] a couple of times last night [against the U.S.], but we've talked about it and he's made sure his mindset will be shot first."

Other lines saw Mathew Barzal (New York Islanders) between Quenneville and Jake Virtanen (Vancouver Canucks); Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning) centered Lawson Crouse (Florida Panthers) and Travis Konecny (Philadelphia Flyers); and Brayden Point (Tampa Bay Lightning) was between Anthony Beauvillier (New York Islanders) and Rourke Chartier (San Jose Sharks).

Forward Julien Gauthier, an A-rated prospect for the 2016 draft, sat out practice Sunday because of an illness, according to TSN, but is expected to play Monday. He had an assist on Barzal's goal Saturday that opened the scoring in Canada's 4-2 loss to the United States.

Stranger support: No nation takes the World Junior Championship more seriously than Canada. Players are under intense scrutiny and a gold medal is expected. Starting the tournament with a loss to the United States won't make things easier.

While some fans can be critical, one player said he's getting significant support. Strome told TSN he's been receiving nothing but positive texts since Saturday. Only, he doesn't know most of the people sending them.

Strome said he purchased a phone specifically for the trip to Finland and didn't give the number to many people. So where did the deluge of texts come from? Strome has a theory.

"I guess my dad was giving out my number to my cousin, who gave it out to my second cousin who gave it out to some people I had never even met before," he said.

Strome said he's not mad, however. So if you happen to have his number and have nice things to say, keep sending the texts.

"I love the support," he said. "I love getting texts. It feels great when people I don't even know are sending texts saying, 'Congratulations on the goal.'"


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