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Latvia remains undefeated with win over Italy

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Andris Dzerins scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner with 1:19 remaining in regulation, to send Latvia to a 2-1 victory over Italy at the IIHF World Championship in Cologne, Germany on Tuesday. 

With the victory, Latvia improves to 3-0-0 and regains sole possession of the top seed in Group A with nine points. 

Italy took an early lead when Marco Insam scored 3:38 into the contest. Latvia tied the game later in the period on the strength of a power-play goal from Dzerins, and the score would remain 1-1 until Dzerins scored the winner with a one-time shot from the inner edge of the left circle.

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: The Italians were in this game until the 18:41 mark of the 3rd period...#ITAvsLAT #IIHFWorlds @lhf_lv

Latvian goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 21 saves. In three starts, he's stopped 76 of 78 shots for a .974 save percentage.

Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons, coming off of a two-point performance in Latvia's win over Slovakia on Sunday, skated 17:20 of ice time but did not record a shot on goal. 

The Latvians have four games remaining in the preliminary round, with a tough schedule awaiting them. In addition to their next game against Sweden (Thursday at 2:15 p.m.), they still have to play Team USA, Russia and host country Germany.

As for the other Sabres at the tournament, Jack Eichel and Team USA will play Italy on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., which can be seen live on NBCSN or streamed on and the NBC Sports App. Ryan O'Reilly and Team Canada will look to remain undefeated as they take on France Thursday at 2:15 p.m., live on NHL Network. 


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