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US, Russia Drop Final Game Of Qualifiers

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
KOSICE – Switzerland finally got a little offence going, scoring a team high for the tournament five goals and defeating the USA 5-3 on the final day of Qualifying Round play at the 2011 IIHF World Championship. The game was of little implication in the sense that the USA was already qualified for, and Switzerland eliminated from, quarter-final play.

The USA finishes play in Group F in fourth place with seven points (two wins, one overtime loss, two losses). They will face the Czech Republic in the quarters. Switzerland finishes the group in fifth place with six points (one win, one overtime win, one overtime loss, two losses) and ninth overall.

Full credit to Switzerland in this one – the team had nothing to play for, except to soothe a little of the sting of heading home after the Qualification Round. The sting would feel particularly nasty, considering that they finished in fifth place at last year’s tournament.
"We wanted to play a good game for our fans," said team captain Mathias Seger, "so we tried our best to get three points. If we had beaten Norway we would have been in the quarter-finals; so that was our goal. As a team, we don't score enough goals and we took too many penalties."
The USA battled in the third period to make it a tight finish. James van Riemsdyk, playing in his first game of the tournament, pulled the USA to within one, making it 4-3, with 1:43 remaining. He bolted in on the left side of the slot and quickly fired the puck past Swiss goalie Tobias Stephan.
The Americans pulled their goalie and Ryan Gardner scored into the empty net with 17 seconds left to lock up the win for Switzerland.

Forward Jack Skille finished with two shots on goal, a two-minute minor for high sticking and a plus-1 on 10:13 of ice time (11 shifts) while defenseman Clay Wilson had an assist - registering the first helper on Craig Smith's first period goal - and a shot and plus-1 in 11:19 of ice time (11 shifts).


BRATISLAVA – In a battle for quarter-finals seeding, Finland rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to earn a 3-2 shootout victory over Russia on Monday at Orange Arena.

Jarkko Immonen and Mikko Koivu scored on Russia's Alexander Barulin in the shootout, while Finnish goalie Teemu Lassila stymied Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexei Morozov. Lassila replaced starter Petri Vehanen early in the game after the Russians jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

"Penalty shots seem to be good for us in the tournament," said Finnish coach Jukka Jalonen. "Russia is a good team, but we tried hard and came back."

In regulation time, Nikolai Kulyomin and Ilya Nikulin scored for Russia. Mikko Koivu and Janne Niskala scored for Finland.

The result leaves Finland in second place in Group E before the last evening game, while the Russians remain fourth, and will face the winner of Canada-Sweden in the quarter-finals.

Interestingly, Russian coach Vyacheslav Bykov did not pull his goalie for an extra attacker in the late stages of regulation. Only a three-point win could have moved Russia up in the standings, while a regulation loss would make no difference.

"We couldn’t stay in the Finnish zone, so we couldn’t pull the goalkeeper," Bykov said.

Russian superstar Alexander Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet for the second straight game.

"We have to play better than this in the quarter-final, because we'll face an even better team than today," said Kovalchuk. "We have to play our best hockey if we want to get through."

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov picked up his second point of the turnament, setting up Kulyomin's goal 4:26 into the game. He also registered a boarding penalty in the third and had a shot and a plus-one on 10:40 of ice time (16 shifts).

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