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World Championship Weekend: Forsberg's Game Winner, Saros' Shutout

by Alexis Tahara / Nashville Predators

After a weekend full of games, the 2015 IIHF World Championship moves into the final two days of preliminary competition on Monday and Tuesday before the tournament’s Quarterfinal Round begins on Thursday, May 14.

All four teams with Nashville Predators representatives have secured a spot in the Quarterfinals with two days left to play, representing four of the eight teams that will move on to the next round.The four Quarterfinal-game winning teams will then advance on to the semifinals. The winners of the Semifinal games, slated for May 16, play in the gold medal game and the losers take part in the bronze medal matchup (both scheduled to be played on May 17).

Here’s a quick look at how the Preds’ representatives fared over the weekend.

Team USA:

USA maintained their slim, one-point lead ahead of Russia for the top spot in Group B with a 3-1 win over Slovenia on Sunday. In the contest, Seth Jones led team defensemen, and was second among all team skaters, in shots on goal (3) and skated 19:49, third on the team. Jimmy Vesey added a shot of his own in 11:32 time on ice, and Steve Moses did not play due to injury.

Through six games played, Jones is second among American blueliners in shots on goal (11) and points (2a-2pts). His 11 shots are good for a Top 15 spot among all tournament defensemen.

The Americans, finish their Preliminary Round slate with a game on Tuesday against Slovakia.

Team Finland:

The Suomi, currently third in Group B, recorded their fourth consecutive shutout victory on Saturday, a 3-0 win over Slovakia. Pekka Rinne, who recorded the first three shutout victories for Finland, did not play on Saturday and was replaced by Predators prospect Juuse Saros. Saros, making his first start of the 2015 World Championship, stopped all 22 Slovakian shots. Rinne and Saros’ shutout streak of 251:56 (and counting) topped the IIHF World Championship record for the modern era of 209:02, which was set in 1957.

Rinne has eight career shutouts, tied for third in World Championship history. Should he tally another one, he will move into a tie for second with the legendary Vladislav Tretiak.

Finland goes back-to-back in the final two days of Preliminary Round competition – taking on Belarus on Monday and Russia on Tuesday.

Team Switzerland:

The Swiss, who sit in fourth place in Group A, earned a single point over the weekend with their 2-1 overtime loss to Sweden on Saturday. On Sunday, the Swiss fell 7-2 to Canada, Group A’s points leader and the only tournament team remaining without a single loss.

Against the Swedes, Roman Josi skated a team-leading 28:07 and tallied two shots while Kevin Fiala posted a team-high three shots (tie with Mark Streit) in 16:36 time on ice. On Sunday against Canada, Josi again led the Swiss in ice time (25:52) while recording two shots on goal. Fiala added another two shots in 15:19 skated.

For the tournament, Josi leads team defensemen in points (1g-2a-3pts) and is second among all Swiss skaters in the category. The Bern, Switzerland, native is tied for fourth among all tournament defensemen in shots on goal (16) and his two assists put him in the Top 20 defensemen in the category.

Switzerland finishes their 2015 World Championship Preliminary Round action against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Team Sweden:

Sweden, second in Group A, was victorious in its only game of the weekend, a 2-1 overtime win against Josi, Fiala and Team Switzerland. After scoring 7:17 into the contest, Sweden didn’t find the back of the net again until Filip Forsberg tallied the overtime game-winning goal. Mattias Ekholm skated 21:28 in the game, second among Swedish skaters, and recorded one shot on goal.

Forsberg, who is playing in his first senior-level tournament for Sweden, is tied for the tournament lead in goals (with USA’s Brock Nelson) with six in as many games played. His seven points (6g-1a) are tied for third on his team and tied for 11th overall among tournament skaters. While playing top-pair minutes for Sweden, Ekholm has tallied 12 shots on goal, putting him in the Top 15 among all defensemen.

Tre Kronor closes Preliminary Round play against France on Monday.

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