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Nelson, Eichel lead U.S. to win against Slovenia

by NHL.com Staff / NHL.com

Brock Nelson (New York Islanders) had two goals and an assist to help the United States to a 3-1 win against Slovenia on Sunday in a Group B preliminary-round game at the 2015 IIHF World Championship at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Jack Eichel, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-rated North American skater in its final rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft, also had a goal. Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings) had three assists, and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets) made 21 saves.

"Our line [Nelson, Lewis and Eichel] has been working well for quite a few games now," Nelson told the IIHF website. "I don't know what the secret is. It would be nice if we did. But I think we've played well from the get-go to create chances and capitalize on them. When you get a few early goals you build that chemistry."

Ales Music scored for Slovenia, and goaltender Robert Kristan made 14 saves. Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings) had two shots on goal in 22:32 of ice time.

After Slovenia scored the only goal of the second period to cut the U.S. lead to 2-1, Eichel's goal 1:09 into the third provided a bit of insurance. Kristan stopped a shot by Seth Jones (Nashville Predators) but couldn't control the rebound. Nelson got the rebound, and Eichel redirected his shot past Kristan to make it 3-1.

Nelson gave the United States a 2-0 lead after one period. Mike Reilly (Columbus Blue Jackets) retrieved the rebound of a Lewis shot behind the Slovenia net and found Nelson in the slot for a goal 4:17 into the game.

Then on a power play, Nelson scored from in close at 16:32 to make it 2-0.

Nelson's six goals tie him with Sweden's Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators) for the tournament lead. His nine points are second in the tournament, one behind Russia's Evgenii Dadonov.

Music made it 2-1 when he beat Hellebuyck at 6:54 of the second. Slovenia outshot the U.S. 8-3 in the period.

The U.S. has 15 points (5-0-0-1) and leads Group B. The Americans finish preliminary-round play Tuesday against Slovakia.

"It's nice to win, and we've put ourselves in a good position," U.S. coach Todd Richards (Columbus Blue Jackets) told USA Hockey. "As we head toward our final preliminary-round game and into the quarterfinals, we need to get back to the way we were playing in the first few games. This team has the potential to do great things."

Slovenia has lost all of its games in regulation and is the only team in the tournament without a standings point. Its final game of the preliminary round is Monday against Denmark.

Russia 3, Slovakia 2 (OT): Artemi Panarin (Chicago Blackhawks) scored at 2:06 of overtime to lift Russia to a win in a Group B preliminary-round game in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Panarin jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated into the Slovakia zone and beat goalie Julius Hudacek for the winner.

Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis Blues) and Sergei Mozyakin also scored for Russia, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) made 20 saves.

Marian Gaborik (Los Angeles Kings) and Tomas Kopecky (Florida Panthers) scored for Slovakia, and Hudacek made 29 saves.

Russia took a 2-1 lead 1:10 into the third period on Tarasenko's goal, but Gaborik scored to tie the game at 7:05 of the third.

Russia is in second place in Group A with 14 points (4-1-0-1), one point behind the United States. It will finish preliminary-round play Tuesday against third-place Finland.

Slovakia is fifth in the group with eight points, two behind fourth-place Belarus; the top four teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals. Slovakia finishes preliminary-round play Tuesday against the United States.

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