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Latvia upsets U.S., Canada routs Denmark at Worlds @NHLdotcom

Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres) scored the go-ahead goal with 5:25 remaining Thursday and Latvia pulled off a 6-5 upset of the United States in a preliminary-round game of the 2014 IIHF World Championship played at Minsk Arena in Belarus.

Latvia (3-1, 9 points), which is led by Sabres coach Ted Nolan, ended a six-game losing streak to the U.S. in the tournament by beating the Americans for the first time since 2001.

"It was an up-and-down game. We went up there, they went up there," Girgensons told the IIHF website. "But we have to stop taking so many penalties. A lot of them were our own fault."

Brock Nelson (New York Islanders) and Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay Lightning) scored power-play goals in the second period to rally the U.S. (2-2, 6 points) from a 3-1 deficit, but Latvia never let the United States pull in front in the third.

Kaspars Daugavins gave Latvia a 4-3 lead at 11:25 but defenseman Seth Jones (Nashville Predators) scored to even things again at 13:26.

Girgensons put Latvia ahead to stay 1:09 later and captain Herberts Vasiljevs scored what turned out to be the game-winner with 2:21 remaining. Nelson scored his second of the game with 1:30 left and goalie Tim Thomas (Dallas Stars) on the bench for a sixth attacker, but the U.S. couldn't beat Latvia goalie Kristers Gudlevskis (Lightning) again for the tying goal. Gudlevskis finished with 31 saves.

"Six goals is just too many," Jones said. "We have to help Tim better than we did [Thursday].

"We are doing a lot of good things but have to tighten up defensively, both forwards and defensemen. We can't let teams get too close to the net."

After Latvia defenseman Gints Meija and forward Craig Smith (Predators) traded goals a minute apart to open the scoring late in the first, Latvia built a two-goal lead when forward Mikelis Redlihs beat Thomas with 1:03 left in the first and forward Aleksandrs Nizivijs scored 8:08 into the second.

The United States returns to action Friday against Kazakhstan. Latvia is off until Saturday when it faces Russia, the leader in Group B.

Canada 6, Denmark 1: Forward Cody Hodgson (Buffalo Sabres) had a hat trick and Canada scored four goals in the third period to pull away against Denmark in a preliminary-round game at Chizhovka Arena.

Forward Matt Read (Philadelphia Flyers) scored twice, including a shorthanded goal, and forward Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers) had the other goal for Canada (3-1, 10 points). Goalie Ben Scrivens (Edmonton Oilers) made 29 saves.

"As a team we had a strategy of wearing [the Danes] down and keeping pucks in their end, and eventually that showed in the third period as we had so much possession time," Hodgson told the IIHF website.

Nicklas Jensen scored in the first period to pull Denmark (1-3, 3 points) into a 1-1 tie but then Canada scored five unanswered goals. Patrick Galbraith did yeoman's work in net for Denmark, stopping 40 shots and keeping his team within 2-1 entering the third.

Read scored twice in the first 3:08 of the final period to help Canada pull away. He converted the rebound of a shot by forward Kyle Turris (Ottawa Senators) at 1:15 and one-timed a Turris pass on a shorthanded 2-on-1 for a 4-1 lead.

"When they score on our power play, that is a tough blow for us," said Danish forward Jannik Hansen (Vancouver Canucks). "It's hard to come back from."

Huberdeau scored on the rebound of a shot by defenseman Morgan Rielly (Toronto Maple Leafs) at 8:35 and Hodgson completed his hat trick at 10:24 by tapping in the rebound of a shot by forward Nazem Kadri (Maple Leafs).

Hodgson had twice staked Canada to leads earlier in the game. He opened the scoring at 5:24 but Jensen tied the game at 9:06. Hodgson had the lone goal of the second period, taking advantage of a turnover to put a slap shot past Galbraith at 5:03.

Next up for Canada is Italy on Friday. Denmark faces the Czech Republic on Saturday.

Finland 2, Belarus 0: Petri Kontiola scored twice, Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) made 15 saves and Finland blanked the host nation in a Group B game at Minsk Arena.

Kontiola opened the scoring for the second straight game, carrying the puck into the Belarus zone and using a defenseman as a screen before beating Kevin Lalande with 3:30 left in the first period. Rinne earned the secondary assist.

He had to make that single goal hold up until Kontiola scored again into an empty net on a Finland power play with 16 seconds left in regulation.

Finland (2-2, 6 points) returns to action Friday against Switzerland. Belarus (2-2, 6 points) gets a day off before playing Germany on Saturday.

Sweden 2, France 1: Joel Lundqvist and Oscar Moller scored 17 seconds apart in the second period for all the offense Sweden would need to edge France.

Anders Nilsson (New York Islanders) stopped 17 shots, losing his bid for a shutout when Stephane Da Costa (Ottawa Senators) scored 4:52 into the third period.

Lundqvist, who played 134 NHL games for the Dallas Stars and is the brother of New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, broke the ice against France goalie Florian Hardy with 4:28 left in the second period, deflecting a Dennis Rasmussen shot. Moller beat Hardy, who finished with 32 saves, to the stick side on the ensuing shift.

Sweden (4-0, 11 points) sits atop Group A and is back in action Friday against Slovakia. France (2-2, 5 points) faces Norway on Saturday.

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