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EICHEL SCORES AS NORTH AMERICA RACES PAST RISTOLAINEN, FINLAND

by Chris Ryndak / Buffalo Sabres

Jack Eichel's squad toppled Rasmus Ristolainen and his fellow countrymen in convincing fashion on Sunday at the World Cup of Hockey. Team North America, comprised of American and Canadians age 23 and under, used their speed to race by Finland in a 4-1 victory at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Eichel opened the scoring on the power play 5:03 into the contest. Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid picked up the assists.

Team North America could have easily had a few more goals in the opening period, but Finland had a video replay go their way and they made a few other great defensive plays (including a key blocked shot by Ristolainen) to hold off the young guns' attack.

North America eventually blew the doors open as Johnny Gaudreau, Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon each scored in the second period. Valteri Filppula scored late in the third for Finland. Matt Murray turned aside 24 shots for North America while Pekka Rinne made 39 saves on 43 shots.

Eichel centered a line featuring Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin. The Sabres' top pick in 2015 finished the game with the goal and two shots in 14:31 of ice time.

Ristolainen had two shots, four hits, two blocked shots and was third on the team in ice time with 21:52.

In earlier action on Sunday, Dmitry Kulikov and Team Russia fell to Sweden 2-1. With seven seconds remaining in regulation, Russian captain Alexander Ovechkin thought he had tied the game with his second goal of the night, but since he redirected the puck off his hand – and video replay determined it didn't bounce off anything else – the goal was disallowed and Sweden skated to victory.

Gabriel Landeskog and Victor Hedman tallied for the Swedes.

Kulikov, who will make his debut with the Sabres once the tournament is over, skated 17:57, had five hits and two blocked shots.

Kulikov will go up against Eichel on Monday when Russia and Team North American play each other at 8 p.m. That game can be seen on ESPN2, SN and TVAS. Stay tuned to Sabres.com for a postgame recap.

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