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Qualifying, Relegation Ends

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers

It was the final day for quarterfinal action while the United States also finished up relegation play.

For the United States, the Americans stayed away from being relegated as they came back to beat Italy 3-2 in a shootout. Italy had a 2-1 lead in the third before Ryan Potulny scored with 8:52 left in the game. The US went 3-0 (one shootout win in relegation play).

For those still competing for medals, it was one final day to get the seedings nailed down. Russia remained perfect with a 5-0 win over Finland. Dmitry Kulikov registered his first point of the tournament (assist) in the victory. Sweden, with Jacob Markstrom starting in net, shut out Switzerland 5-0. Markstrom stopped 28 shots for his third victory of the tournament. In the biggest battle of the last day, the Czech Republic topped Canada 3-2. Tomas Vokoun turned away 28 shots for his fourth victory. The Czechs finished third in Group play while Canada finished fourth and will have to face Russia in the quarterfinals.

UNITED STATES 3 - Italy 2 (SO)
COLOGNE – It was one of those bittersweet moments for the United States at the IIHF World Championship on Tuesday.

T.J. Oshie scored on a wrist shot in a sudden-death shootout to give the United States a 3-2 win over Italy at the 2010 Worlds. Oshie was the seventh shooter for the Americans and he took all three shots in sudden death for the USA.

The point the USA gained when the buzzer sounded to end the third period and sent the game to overtime guaranteed that the Americans would not be demoted to the IIHF’s second tier. The USA wound up in first place in the relegation pool, while France was second.

"The hockey gods were not with us," said USA defenceman Jack Johnson. "I am glad we can look forward to next year. We're glad it is over but we're glad for next year."

- Alan Adams

MANNHEIM – The Czech Republic got two goals in the second period to break a 1-1 tie and skated to a 3-2 win over Canada. As a result, they finished in third place in Group F and advance, with Canada, to the quarterfinals. It was a bitter and tense battle that showed signs of being one more punch or check away from getting out of hand.

Canada finishes fourth and will play Russia while the Czechs will play Finland. All quarter-finals will be played on Thursday.
"We're going to have to go through the tough teams eventually," said Canadian forward John Tavares. "In whatever order it is, it doesn't really matter. It's a new slate for everybody, and it's do or die now."

Today’s loss was historic in the worst way for Canada. It marked the first time since the playoff system was adopted in 1992 that the motherland of the game has lost three games prior to the quarterfinals.

It made for a strange afternoon as these teams met for an important game – and it was only the Qualifying Round. A loss by the Czechs meant a trip back to Prague, and a loss by Canada meant a quarterfinals date with Russia, the heavy favourites this year. The result was a very ornery Czech team that took two boarding penalties and started a fight (that went into the books as a double minor for Tomas Rolinek and Steve Ott) in the first period alone.

- Andrew Podnieks

RUSSIA 5 - Finland 0
COLOGNE – Russia rolled over Finland, 5-0, getting goals by five different players and a shutout by Semyon Varlamov. Ilya Kovalchuk got two assists and Maxim Afinogenov a goal and an assist.

"With the new rules it is all about special teams and I think our penalty killing was great and the power play worked tonight. It is important for the quarterfinal," Kovalchuk said.

The last time Russia left a World Championship rink as a loser was in Moscow in 2007 when they lost to the Finns 2-1 in overtime. Since then, the team has raked in 23 wins. Before their game against Finland. Now the win count is 24.

Finland started the game strong, they came out of the gate like they meant business. And they did. Finland pressured the Russian defencemen, and created several good scoring chances. Unfortunately for the Finns, when it was time to put the puck to the back of the net, they hit the post instead. Three times.

- Risto Pakarinen

SWEDEN 5 - Switzerland 0
MANNHEIM – Forget about neutrality. Sweden convincingly beat Switzerland 5-0 in their final Qualification Round game to clinch top spot in Group F. The Swedes will take on Denmark in Thursday's quarterfinals, while the Swiss face the host Germans.

This anticipated showdown simply turned into an exhibition of Swedish puck control, discipline, and patience. The tone was the polar opposite of the chippy Czech victory over Canada earlier. Apart from the maintaining of good civic order (both teams took two minors apiece), there was little to cheer about for Swiss fans among the 5,757 on hand at SAP Arena.

"The score might have looked easy, but it was a tough game for us," said Sweden's Victor Hedman. "We played well, and knew we had to come out strong. The Swiss have had a good tournament, but Markström had an unbelievable game in net, too. We scored on our chances, and that was the difference."

Sweden's Tony Mårtensson set the tone with a goal and two assists, while team scoring leader Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson added a goal and an assist.

The Swedes are fixtures in the final eight, never having missed out since the IIHF instituted the playoff system in 1992. In fact, Sweden has never finished lower than seventh (2000) in its modern history. Switzerland, gradually emerging as a hockey power, will make its sixth quarterfinals appearance since 2003.

Both teams dressed their backup goalies, and Sweden's Jacob Markström recorded his first-ever Worlds shutout over Switzerland's Tobias Stephan. Switzerland outshot Sweden 28-25.

- Lucas Aykroyd
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