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World Juniors

WJC roundup: United States defeats Russia

Takes over first place in Group B; Lafreniere out for Canada

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Sunday is the fourth day of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.


Finland 7, Kazakhstan 1

United States, 3, Russia 1

Day 4 games

United States 3, Russia 1 -- Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings) scored two goals and Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) made 25 saves for the United States (2-0-0-1) in a Group B game at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava.

Kaliyev scored a power-play goal on a one-timer from the right face-off circle at 16:41 of the second period to give the United States a 1-0 lead. Nick Robertson (Toronto Maple Leafs) made it 2-0 six seconds later after the puck hit off his skate and into the air before crossing the goal line at 16:47.

Kaliyev scored his second of the game off a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that went between the pads of goalie Amir Miftakhov at 1:20 of the third period for a 3-0 lead.

Alexander Romanov (Montreal Canadiens) scored at 3:04 of the third period to pull Russia within 3-1. Miftakhov (2020 NHL Draft eligible) made 15 saves on 18 shots for Russia (1-0-0-2) before he was replaced by Yaroslav Askarov (six saves) at 1:20 of the third period.

Finland 7, Kazakhstan 1 -- Patrik Puistola (Carolina Hurricanes) had two goals and an assist, Kristian Tanus (2020 NHL Draft eligible) had a goal and an assist and Kari Piiroinen (2020 eligible) made 21 saves for Finland (2-0-1-0, seven points) in a Group A game at Werk Arena in Trinec. Andrei Buyalsky (2020 eligible) scored for Kazakhstan (0-0-0-3).

What we learned on Day 4

Zegras assisting U.S. offense

Trevor Zegras, selected by the Anaheim Ducks with the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, had two primary assists for the United States in a 3-1 win against Russia on Saturday.

Zegras leads the United States with seven points, all assists, in three games. He has formed great chemistry with center Jack Drury (Carolina Hurricanes) and right wing Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings), who scored two goals against Russia.
United States forward Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens), who played with Zegras for two seasons at the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, isn't surprised by his success.

"Trevor is unbelievable; he's so dynamic that you have to know what page he's on because he might do some things that you don't expect," Caufield said. "I'm happy he's having a great tournament. He's up there as some of the best passers I've played with. He's so smart and always putting the puck in good spots for you; that's kind of a skill he has and it's better than most people."

Coach Scott Sandelin has utilized Zegras in a top-6 role for much of the tournament.

"He's got great puck skills and vision," Sandelin said. "He's got great deception and especially working down on that power play, he has the ability but that goal by Kaliyev was two good plays ... a great pass and great finish."

Kaliyev and Roberston tie record

Kaliyev and Nick Robertson (Toronto Maple Leafs) tied a team record in the IIHF World Junior Championship when they scored in a span of six seconds for the United States in a 3-1 win against Russia on Sunday. 

Kaliyev scored a power-play goal at 16:41 of the second period and Robertson scored at 16:47 of the second to give the United States (2-0-0-1) a 2-0 lead. 

"I'm just trying to help the team win and do whatever it takes," Kaliyev said. "I think getting on the board like that was huge after it was a 0-0 game throughout half the game, so it was really good."

The two quick goals tied the WJC record for the fastest by a team, which occurred two other times. Evgeni Malkin and Nikolai Lemtyugov scored in the first period at 3:54 and 4:00, respectively, for Russia against Latvia on Dec. 29, 2005, and Mika Helkearo and Pekka Arbelius scored in the third period at 16:18 and 16:24, respectively, for Finland against Switzerland on Dec. 28, 1979.

Opportunity knocks for Mercer

Dawson Mercer, an A-rated skater in NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list for the 2020 NHL Draft, will be promoted into a top-six role for Canada in the absence of injured Alexis Lafrienere against Germany in a Group B preliminary-round game at Ostravar Arena on Monday (9 a.m. ET; NHLN).

Lafrienere will not play Monday and his status for the remainder of the tournament is unknown after he sustained a left leg injury in a 6-0 loss against Russia on Saturday.

"It's unfortunate for Alexis ... you never want to see a teammate get injured or hurt in any sort of way but it's an opportunity for me and I'm going to do anything I can to help this team win," Mercer said. "I'm going to grab hold to it and hopefully keep myself in that position."

Mercer, the 13th forward on the roster prior to Lafreniere's injury, was on a line with center Joe Veleno (Detroit Red Wings) and left wing Quinton Byfield, also an A-rated skater in NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list, during practice on Sunday.

"I think [Veleno] plays at a really high pace, high speed, and I want to make sure I match that and keep up with the pace in these games," Mercer said. "Everyone on the ice is a high-end player. I want to go 100 percent, making sure I'm making quick reads, smart decisions, but also playing tough."

Mercer said the loss against Russia was a lesson learned.

"You have to move on and build from that because what happened cannot be changed," he said. "We're obviously going to bounce back [Monday] and we know what we have to change, what we got to do."

Puistola pacing offense for Finland

Patrik Puistola, chosen by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round (No. 73) of the 2019 NHL Draft, is doing all he can in his World Junior Championship debut to help Finland return to the championship round.

The 18-year-old forward had a goal and two assists and was named Finland's player of the game in a 7-1 win against Kazakhstan. He leads the WJC defending champion with seven points (three goals, four assists) in three games on a line with Kristian Tanus and Joonas Oden, a C-rated skater in NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list for the 2020 draft.

Puistola has been needed offensively since Finland is without Rasmus Kupari (Los Angeles Kings), who is out for the rest of tournament after sustaining a knee injury in the opening game. Finland has used 11 forwards in each of the past two games. 

"I'm pretty happy," Puistola said. "I think I've played well so far. But there's for sure things I can do better still."

Puistola (6-foot-0, 174 pounds), who is considered a skilled goal-scorer, has one assist in 15 games this season for Tappara in Liiga, Finland's top professional men's league.

[WJC coverage: Day 3 roundup]

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