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France stuns Canada, U.S. routs Belarus at Worlds @NHLdotcom

Forward Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, who plays in the Swedish Hockey League for Skelleftea, scored in the third round of a shootout Friday to give France a 3-2 victory against Canada in the preliminary round of the 2014 IIHF World Championship at Chizhovka Arena in Belarus.

The victory was the second by France against Canada at the World Championship dating to 1931; the French previously defeated Canada 4-1 in April 1995. The Canadians, who defeated France 9-1 at the 2011 WC and 7-2 in 2012, fall to 8-2 all-time against France.

"You look at that team after they won that game, that's like winning a Stanley Cup for them," Canada coach Dave Tippett told The Canadian Press.

France goalie Cristobal Huet, who made 34 saves through overtime, denied Kyle Turris (Ottawa Senators), Sean Monahan (Calgary Flames) and Matt Read (Philadelphia Flyers) before Bellemare connected for the winner in the tiebreaker off a shot high to the stick side. The goal prompted a wild celebration at center ice.

"Any time we beat a top-six, it's huge," France coach Dave Henderson told the IIHF website. "Canada is where hockey is. If you beat Canada, it's a huge thing for French hockey."

Bellemare, 29, had 20 goals and 35 points in 52 games as an alternate captain for Skelleftea in 2013-14.

Canada, the two-time defending Olympic champion, is seeking its first World Championship gold medal since 2007 and first medal of any kind since 2009. France is looking to improve on last year's 13th-place finish.

Canada goalie James Reimer (Toronto Maple Leafs) finished with 26 saves.

"France defended well in front of their net," Tippett said. "We didn't create enough opportunities and Huet made some big saves for them. It shows how hard this tournament is. It shows how hard teams are going to play against Canada. It's a good lesson for our young players."

The Canadians took a 2-1 lead with 9:18 remaining in the third period when Erik Gudbranson (Florida Panthers) banked a shot off the post and past Huet. A video review confirmed the puck had crossed the line. Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), one of three finalists for the 2014 Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year, assisted on the goal.

France pulled even less than two minutes later when second-line forward Stephane Da Costa (Ottawa Senators) scored his second power-play goal with 7:25 left.

Da Costa scored a power-play goal late in the first to give France a 1-0 lead at 17:03. Brayden Schenn (Philadelphia Flyers) evened the score for Canada when he connected for a power-play goal off assists from Cody Hodgson (Buffalo Sabres) and Jason Garrison (Vancouver Canucks) with 14 seconds remaining in the first, when the Canadians were outshot 10-9.

Each team is off until Sunday, when Canada plays Slovakia and France faces Italy.

"A big step for us would be coming out in the next game playing just as well," Bellemare said. "We have had a tendency in the past to play a good game and follow it up with a worse one, so that's our focus. Italy is a key game."

United States 6, Belarus 1: Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets), Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames) and Colin McDonald (New York Islanders) scored even-strength goals in a span of 2:53 late in the second when the United States opened a 4-0 lead in preliminary-round play at Minsk Arena.

Trouba scored two goals, and Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Brock Nelson (New York Islanders) once for the Americans, who will play Switzerland on Saturday. Gaudreau, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in NCAA Division I hockey, led the United States with three points (one goal, two assists) in 17:28 of ice time.

Gaudreau, a 2011 fourth-round pick (No. 104) of the Flames, produced 80 points in 40 games for Boston College in 2013-14 and led the nation in goals (36) and assists (44) as well as points. He is the first player to have 80 or more points in college hockey since Colorado College's Peter Sejna had 82 in 2002-03.

Goalie Tim Thomas (Dallas Stars) finished with 20 saves for the United States, which finished 3-for-6 on the power play. The Americans won a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championship in Helsinki when they led the tournament with a 33.3 percent power-play efficiency (10-for-30).

Andrei Stepanov scored a power-play goal off a one-timer from the slot off a feed from Mikhail Grabovski (Washington Capitals) with four seconds left in the second to snap the shutout.

The top American line of Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay Lightning) centering Nelson and Craig Smith (Nashville Predators) presented a lot of problems for the Belarus defense much of the game. Nelson gave the Americans a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 12:21 off a quick release from the slot. Johnson finished with two assists.

Belarus will play Kazakhstan on Sunday.

Czech Republic 3, Slovakia 2: Jakub Klepis scored 1:50 into overtime in a preliminary round game at Chizhovka Arena. Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey Devils) pulled the Czech Republic into a 2-2 tie with 2:07 left in the third period on assists from Ondrej Nemec and Tomas Hertl (San Jose Sharks).

Nemec finished with a goal and two points for the Czech Republic, which received 14 saves from Alexander Salak. The Czech Republic, which placed seventh at the 2013 WC, will resume play Sunday against Sweden. Slovakia, coming off an eighth-place finish, will play Canada on Saturday.

Michel Miklik and Marek Viedensky scored even-strength goals in the second period to give Slovakia a 2-1 lead. Jan Laco made 30 saves for Slovakia, including 16 in the first.

The Czechs took a 1-0 lead 6:24 into the first when Nemec scored a power-play goal off assists from Jiri Hudler (Calgary Flames) and Roman Cervenka.

Russia 5, Switzerland 0: NHL teammates Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals scored goals in the first period, when Russia opened a 3-0 lead in the preliminary round at Minsk Arena. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) made 27 saves in his first World Championship appearance for Russia.

Ovechkin finished with one goal and two points in the game for Russia, which will next face Finland on Sunday. Artem Anisimov (Blue Jackets) scored a shorthanded goal and Anton Belov and Danis Zaripov also scored. Sergei Plotnikov opened the scoring for Russia on a goal 13 seconds into the first period.

According to the Calgary Sun, the Calgary Flames confirmed forward Sven Baertschi sustained an upper-body injury. The newspaper said the Flames medical staff was gathering information from the Swiss team.

Switzerland, which won the silver medal at the 2013 World Championship in Stockholm, will play the United States on Saturday.

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