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Late goals lead U.S. past Canada to open 2016 WJC

by Canadian Press

HELSINKI -- Louis Belpedio, a Minnesota Wild draft choice, scored the go-ahead goal and Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, added an insurance goal late in the third period as the United States beat Canada 4-2 on Saturday in each team's first preliminary game of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Colin White (Ottawa Senators) and Zach Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets) also scored for the United States (1-0-0), while Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) made 25 saves for the win.

Matt Barzal (New York Islanders) and Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes) supplied the offense as Canada (0-1-0) began its defense of the 2015 World Junior title. Mason McDonald (Calgary Flames) stopped 21 shots in net.

Canada opened scoring five minutes into the second period. Julien Gauthier was instrumental in the play, getting a partial breakaway and then passing to Rourke Chartier. As Chartier got off a shot, Gauthier fell to the ice and slid into the boards, scrambling back toward the goal line.

The rebound went off Nedeljkovic and bounced to Gauthier, who was still on his knees from his fall. He made a heads-up play, passing the puck from his knees back to the trailing Barzal, who put the puck into the open net.

White tied it 1-1 just over 11 minutes later on assists from Sonny Milano (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Christian Dvorak (Arizona Coyotes).

A costly goalie interference penalty taken by John Quenneville (New Jersey Devils) helped the United States take a 2-1 lead 7:22 into the third period.

Werenski scored on the power play for the Americans, with assists going to Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk.

Strome tied the game 2-2 with 9:15 left in the third period, thanks to Werenski's slashing penalty.

Strome dangled the puck around American defenders before snapping the puck past Nedeljkovic.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospects Mitch Marner and Travis Dermott assisted on the power-play goal.

The United States responded six minutes later, with Belpedio scoring. Less than a minute later Matthews scored to put the game away for the United States.

Alex DeBrincat earned a five-minute major and a game misconduct after spearing Travis Konecny (Philadelphia Flyers) when the play was already whistled dead with 2:40 left in the first period.

DeBrincat is one of the brightest stars for the Americans, with 33 goals and 23 assists this season for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

Sweden 8, Switzerland 3: Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander was injured and did not return for Sweden in its rout of Switzerland.

Nylander, who was selected No. 8 by Toronto at the 2014 NHL Draft, received an open-ice hit from Swiss forward Chris Egli in the first period. Egli received a game misconduct for checking to the head and neck area on the play.

Fellow Maple Leafs prospect Dmytro Timashov led Sweden (1-0-0) with two goals and an assist. Nylander, Jacob Larsson (Anaheim Ducks), Adam Ollas Mattsson (Calgary Flames), Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (Boston Bruins), Rasmus Asplund and Oskar Lindblom (Philadelphia Flyers) rounded out the attack.

Tino Kessler struck twice for Switzerland (0-1-0) with Noah Rod adding the other.

Linus Soderstrom (New York Islanders) picked up the win in net, making 15 saves. Gauthier Descloux started for the Swiss, but was pulled after kicking out 11 of 17 shots in 32:50. Joren van Pottelberghe (Detroit Red Wings) went the rest of the way, making 20 saves.

Russia 2, Czech Republic 1: Maxim Lazarev scored the only goal in the shootout as Russia edged the Czech Republic.

Artur Lauta evened the game at 1-1 with a third-period goal for the Russians (1-0-0).

Michael Spacek (Winnipeg Jets) scored on a penalty shot to open the scoring for the Czech Republic (0-0-1).

Alexander Georgiev turned aside 24 shots for the win as Vitek Vanecek made 20 saves in defeat.

Finland 6, Belarus 0: Jesse Puljujarvi had two goals and an assist, and Veini Vehvilainen stopped all 10 shots he faced as Finland shut out Belarus.

Sami Niku (Winnipeg Jets), Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche), Sebastian Repo and Patrik Laine also found the back of the net for the Finns (1-0-0), who scored five times in the third period. Sebastian Aho tacked on three assists.

Ivan Kulbakov started in net for Belarus (0-1-0) and turned away 26 of 30 shots in 47:26 before giving way to Vladislav Verbitski, who made five saves in relief.

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