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Jones, Vesey and Moses Represent Preds in Semifinals

by Alexis Tahara / Nashville Predators

At the start of the day, all nine of the Nashville Predators’ representatives were still alive at the Quarterfinal Round of the 2015 IIHF World Championship, but after four games, just three – USA’s Seth Jones, Steve Moses and Jimmy Vesey – remain.

Quarterfinal One: USA 3 vs. Switzerland 1

The first game of the day pitted Jones, Moses, Vesey and Team USA against Roman Josi, Kevin Fiala and Team Switzerland.

Just over 13 minutes into the contest, Josi tallied the first goal of the game, unassisted, to give the Swiss a 1-0 lead that lasted into the first intermission. Halfway through the second period, Jimmy Vesey tallied his third assist of the tournament on Ben Smith’s (San Jose Sharks) goal to even the score, and less than a minute later, Seth Jones assisted on Charlie Coyle’s (Minnesota Wild) tally that gave the USA a 2-1 lead.

In the final frame, Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs) added a third goal for Team USA to secure the win and a spot in Saturday’s semifinal. Despite not recording a point in the contest, Moses played 12:28 in his third game since returning from injury and tallied three shots on goal.

With his assist, Jones moved into second among American blueliners in tournament points (1g-3a-4pts). Against the Swiss, he recorded a team-high five shots, improving his tournament total to 19, a team high and a mark that is in the Top 10 of all tournament defensemen.

Josi ends his sixth World Championship appearance as the leader among Swiss defensemen in points (2g-2a-4pts) and second among all team skaters. The Bern, Switzerland, native, who was consistently among team leaders in average time on ice, finished the tournament with 20 shots on goal, first among Swiss blueliners, third on the team and in the Top 10 among all World Championship defensemen.

Fiala finished the tournament with three points (1g-2a) in eight games played, improving on his two points (0g-2a) in seven games in 2014, his first World Championship appearance.

Quarterfinal Two: Canada 9 vs. Belarus 0

Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks) led Canada with four points (2g-2a) and five other Canadians recorded multi-point games as Canada rolled to a 9-0 win over Belarus in Thursday’s second quarterfinal matchup.

With the win, Canada, who has 58 goals in the tournament, the most they have scored since 1962, secured a spot in the semifinals for the first time since they ended the tournament with the silver medal in 2009.

Quarterfinal Three: Russia 5 vs. Sweden 3

Despite rallying from a 3-0 deficit, Filip Forsberg, Mattias Ekholm and Tre Kronor ultimately fell 5-3 to Russia in their quarterfinal contest on Thursday, ending Sweden’s pursuit for a third consecutive trip to the medal stand.

After a scoreless first 10 minutes, Russia tallied two goals in the opening frame’s second half to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

Less than a minute into the second period, the Russians scored again to strengthen their lead to three, but Tre Kronor began mounting their comeback near the halfway point of the second period and lessened the Russian lead to two before the second intermission. In the final frame, Sweden scored twice, with Ekholm picking up an assist on the second tally, to tie the game at three apiece. Just 26 seconds later, Russia regained the lead and never looked back, adding an empty-net tally to solidify their semifinal berth.

Forsberg, who led all Swedish skaters in shots against Russia (6) and was second among team forwards in time on ice (24:02), finished the tournament tied for the top spot in goals (8) through eight games. With nine points (8g-1a) in eight games, Forsberg was third on Team Sweden in points and in the tournament’s Top 15 in the category. In his first appearance for Sweden on the senior-level, Forsberg was one of just five players in the tournament to tally two or more game-winning goals for his squad and finished in the Top 5 in shots on goal (28, 8 gp).

In his second World Championship, Ekholm finished among the Swedish leaders in average time on ice and with three points (3a), tied for fourth among team blueliners. Ekholm’s 16 shots on goal were good for second among Swedish defensemen and a Top 10 spot in the tournament category.

Quarterfinal Four: Czech Republic 5 vs. Finland 3

In Thursday’s closing quarterfinal, the hometown crowd was enough to help spur the Czech Republic past Pekka Rinne, Juuse Saros and Team Finland, 5-3.

The Czechs opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the first frame, but Finland was able to tie the score at 1-1 before the end of the stanza. In the second period’s first-half, the teams traded goals, but ultimately the Czech Republic took a 3-2 lead into the final intermission on the back of Jan Kovar’s second goal of the game.

Four minutes and 24 seconds into the third period, the Suomi tied the score at three, but 11 minutes later, Jaromir Jagr tallied what was ultimately the game-winning goal for the home team. With 2:22 left in the game, Rinne, who made 27 saves in the contest, was pulled for the extra attacker; an empty-net goal by the Czech’s sealed their win.

Rinne ends his fourth World Championship appearance among the tournament’s Top 3 backstops (five or more games played) in goals-against average (1.69) and save percentage (.928) through eight games. Over the course of the tournament, Rinne recorded a tournament-leading three shutouts and tallied an unbeaten stretch of 237:05, setting a new IIHF modern-era record.

Saros, a Preds prospect who was drafted by the team in the 2013 NHL Draft’s fourth round, saw one game of action in his second consecutive year representing Finland at the World Championship. In his lone game in net, he stopped all 22 Slovakian shots to lead Finland to a 3-0 victory.

Team USA returns to the ice on Saturday for their semifinal matchup against Russia at 12:15 p.m. CT. While the game will not be broadcast live on television, fans can stream it live on NBCSN’s LiveExtra. The puck will drop for the semifinal game between Canada and the Czech Republic at 8:15 a.m. CT on Saturday. Stay tuned to and @PredsNHL on Twitter for information on how the Preds representatives fare through the remainder of the tournament.

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