Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning scored the game-winner with 6:45 remaining in the third period and the United States defeated Switzerland 3-2 on Saturday in the preliminary round of the 2014 IIHF World Championship at Minsk Arena in Belarus.
The U.S. trailed 1-0 and 2-1.
Craig Smith of the Nashville Predators scored on the power play for the Americans, and Peter Mueller came out of the penalty box and scored eight seconds after serving a tripping minor. Tim Thomas of the Dallas Stars made 27 saves.
"Our line's playing well, and the [power play] is getting points which is always important in a tournament like this," Johnson told the IIHF website. "It's great to get that chemistry together."
Damien Brunner of the New Jersey Devils and Denis Hollenstein scored for Switzerland; Reto Berra of the Colorado Avalanche made 35 saves.
The second game for each team provided some drama in the third period. With the score tied 2-2 midway through the period, Switzerland had what would have been the go-ahead goal waved off on an offside call. Soon after Johnson's goal put the United States ahead, Switzerland thought it had tied the game on a goal by Simon Moser, but after the officials conferred among themselves, that goal was also negated due to an offside call.
"They looked offside and the officials called it," Johnson said. "The linesmen only have a split second to make decisions. I don't know if it was right or wrong, but they have a tough job to do."
After a scoreless first period when each team had 11 shots, Hollenstein opened the scoring 1:28 into the second. Mueller got the equalizer when he skated in alone on Berra after serving his penalty.
Switzerland regained the lead on Brunner's goal at 9:39. Berra played a huge role in the Swiss maintaining their lead in the second, making 17 saves in the period.
With Robin Grossmann off for slashing, Smith tied the game 1:28 into the third. Johnson scored the winner almost 12 minutes later, with Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones earning the lone assist.
The United States is 2-0-0-0 and will play Russia on Monday. The Swiss are 0-2-0-0 and play Belarus on Monday.
"It was a back-to-back today and that's tough," Thomas said. "We have to find the energy from somewhere. Most players from the NHL are used to getting a bit of time off, but we've come out here, dealt with the time change and there's not been much time to practice. Playing like this is rough, at least I know it's rough on me, so it's great to come up with two wins."
Canada 4, Slovakia 1: Joel Ward of the Washington Capitals scored twice, Jason Garrison of the Vancouver Canucks had two assists, and Canada rebounded from a tournament-opening loss to France with a win against Slovakia in preliminary-round play at Chizhovka Arena in Minsk.
Canada captain and Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa also scored for Canada, as did Cody Hodgson of the Buffalo Sabres; Ben Scrivens of the Edmonton Oilers made 23 saves.
Karol Sloboda opened the scoring for Slovakia, and goaltender Jan Laco stopped 24 of 28 shots.
After Slovakia killed three straight penalties in the first period, Canada got into penalty trouble in the second. It successfully killed two-minute minors to Alexandre Burrows of the Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. But Slovakia's power play finally broke through, with Sloboda scoring with 14 seconds remaining in a high-sticking penalty called on Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ward scored his first with 2:39 remaining in the second.
"I grew up watching international hockey and I’m very happy to put a Canadian jersey on and be a part of it," Ward said. "I’m trying to make the most of it, just trying to have fun and not get too nervous."
Canada had five shots in the third period but made them count. Hodgson gave it a 2-1 lead at 7:07, and Bieksa and Ward scored 53 seconds apart late in the period.
"It’s nice to get the four goals, but I think it was a closer game than that," Hodgson said.
Canada is 1-0-1-0 and play the Czech Republic on Monday.
"It was a competitive game," Canada coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought our team played better than last night, which is a step forward for us."
Slovakia (0-1-1-0) remains winless after losing its tournament-opener to the Czechs in overtime. Slovakia will play France on Monday.
Sweden 3, Denmark 0: Mikael Backlund of the Calgary Flames scored twice, including the game-winner in the first period, to lead Sweden to a win against Denmark in the preliminary round at Chizhovka Arena in Minsk.
Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist also scored for Sweden, and Anders Nilsson of the New York Islanders stopped 21 shots to earn the shutout. Patrick Galbraith made 31 saves for Denmark.
Sweden got off to a quick start in its first game of the tournament, outshooting Denmark 14-8 in the first period. Backlund opened the scoring at 11:41, with Mattias Ekholm of the Nashville Predators earning an assist. Backlund scored his second of the game with 37 seconds remaining to give the defending world champions a 2-0 lead.
"Scoring twice was a good feeling," Backlund told the IIHF website. "Going into the first game, you are always a bit nervous."
After a scoreless second period, Sweden clamped down in the third, outshooting its opponent 10-5 and getting a goal at 8:13 from Nyquist.
"The Danes came out hard the first 10 minutes, and I got to make a few saves to get into it," Nilsson said. "After that we took over a little bit."
Each team plays Sunday, Sweden against the Czech Republic and Denmark against Norway.
Latvia 3, Finland 2: Kristaps Sotnieks and Arturs Kulda scored power-play goals 4:34 apart in the third period to give Latvia a surprise win against Finland in preliminary-round play at Minsk Arena.
Kaspars Daugavins scored Latvia's other goal, and goaltender Edgars Maslaskis made 22 saves.
Miikka Salomaki opened the scoring for Finland, which led after Tuukka Mantyla scored on the power play in the second period; goaltender Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators stopped 23 of 26 shots for the 2013 bronze medalists.
After outshooting Finland 16-6 in the second period, Latvia trailed 2-1 to open the third. But despite being outshot 10-3 in the third, the Latvians found a way to tie the game before taking the lead, thanks in large part to their power play.
Sotnieks tied the game 7:48 into the third with 23 seconds remaining in Kontiola's tripping minor. It took less time for Latvia to capitalize when Veli-Matti Savinainen was whistled for slashing at 12:15. Seven seconds into that man-advantage, Latvia got the game-winner from Kulda, a former member of the Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets.
Finland and Latvia play Sunday. Latvia will meet Germany, and Finland will play Russia.