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Another Big Night for Neal

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins forward James Neal scored a goal and assisted on the game-winning tally to help Canada top Sweden, 3-2, in the final qualifying round match of the 2011 IIHF World Championships on Monday in Kosice, Slovakia.


Neal opened the scoring just 1:08 into the contest on a mini breakaway for his second goal of the tournament. He then notched a helper on linemate and captain Rick Nash’s game-winning power-play goal with just 7:29 remaining in regulation.

Neal led all Canadian forwards in ice time with 18:05 minutes in the contest, the third time in four games he has paced the team’s front-end in minutes played. He also recorded four shots on goal and finished with a plus-1 rating.

RELATED: Neal, Michalek Wrap Up Qualifying Round Action Monday >>

Since the two teams entered the game tied with 10 points each, the win gave Canada sole possession of the top spot in Group F with 12 points and a date with Russia in the tournament quarterfinals on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Neal now has five points (2G-3A) through five games. He has put forth multiple-point efforts in the last two games, as Neal scored the game-winning goal and added an assist in Canada’s 3-2 win over Norway on May 7.

Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek helped the Czech Republic stay red-hot as they cruised to a 5-2 victory over Germany on Monday to conclude qualifying round action.

RELATED: Neal Scores Game-Winning Goal to Power Canada Past Norway >>

Michalek led all Czech skaters in ice time with 19:26 minutes. He recorded three shots on goal and finished with a plus-2 rating.

The Czechs, who easily captured Group E with a perfect 5-0 record for 15 points – a five-point margin over second-place Finland – will take on the United States in the tournament quarterfinals on either Wednesday or Thursday.

WATCH: Highlights from Canada's 3-2 win over Sweden, including Neal's goal:

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