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Eichel sets up winning goal as USA clinches top seed in Group A

Latvia eliminated following SO loss to Germany

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly saw their teams conclude the preliminary round as the top seeds in their respective groups, while Zemgus Girgensons and the Latvians had their tournament end in heartbreaking fashion at the IIHF World Championship on Monday. 

Here's a look at a day's worth of action and what's to come in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.


USA 5 - RUS 3

Watch: Youtube Video

In a game that saw Team USA earn six power plays before they finally cashed in for a goal, it was with the man advantage that gave the U.S. the final edge in their 5-3 victory over Russia in Cologne, Germany on Tuesday. 

With the win, Team USA has clinched the top seed in Group A entering the quarterfinal round.     

Eichel earned the secondary assist on Anders Lee's game-winning goal, which broke a 3-3 tie with 7:03 remaining in the third period. Eichel passed across the net through traffic to Johnny Gaudreau, who quickly moved the puck back across to find Lee for the tap-in at the back door. 

Brock Nelson scored an empty-net goal to seal the win with 22 seconds remaining. 

It was a back-and-forth game throughout, with Team USA erasing three one-goal deficits in the first two periods. That was in due in large part to a strong effort from Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped all 16 of the shots he faced in a first period that saw the U.S. earn six power plays. 

The sixth power play trickled into the second period, and only 12 seconds remained when Team USA finally cashed in on a goal from Kevin Hayes. Each team scored twice more in the period - Anton Belov's goal was answered by a goal from Dylan Larkin, and Nikita Gusev's second of the night was answered by Hayes' second. 

While Eichel has yet to find the back of the net in the tournament, he now has five assists in seven games. The lack of goals hasn't been for a lack of trying; he took four shots against Russia to bring his team-leading total to 30.

Team USA, winner of six straight games, will meet Finland in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.


CAN 5 - FIN 2

Watch: Youtube Video

Canada began the day having already clinched the top seed in Group B, but concluded its preliminary round on a strong note nonetheless with a 5-2 victory over Finland. 

Mitch Marner tallied a pair of goals and an assist for the Canadians, all in the first period. Colton Parayko contributed a goal and an assist, while Brayden Point and Nathan MacKinnon also scored goals. 

The two teams combined for three goals in a span of 80 seconds early in the first period. Marner opened the scoring at the 2:46 mark, Jani Lajunen answered for Germany 22 seconds later and Parayko regained the edge for Canada on the power play less the a minute after that. 

Marner tallied his second goal on the power play before the end of the period, and the Canadians would hold the lead for the remainder of the game. 

O'Reilly saw a personal three-game point streak snapped in the win. He tallied three shots in 12:36 of ice time. 


GER 4 - LAT 3 (SO)

Latvia had a chance to advance to the quarterfinal round with a win against host country Germany, and seemed poised to do so after erasing a two-goal deficit and taking a 3-2 lead on Andris Dzerins' power-play goal with 3:52 remaining in regulation. 

Then suddenly, things unraveled. The Latvians were called for delay of game, and Germany pulled goalie Phillip Grubauer for a two-man advantage with 1:18 remaining. That set the stage for Felix Schultz to bury a rebound and tie the game with 33 seconds remaining. 

Latvia outshot Germany 7-1 in overtime, but to no avail. Frederik Tiffels scored the only goal of the shootout to win the game for the Germans and send them to the quarterfinal round. 

The loss marks a disappointing end for a Latvian team that won its first three games of the tournament. The Latvians then lost three games and found themselves tied for fourth place with Germany, setting the stage for the win-or-go-home matchup.

Girgensons concludes his fourth World Championship with two points (1+1) in seven games. He skated 17:08 and took four shots on Tuesday. 


Up next

Team USA will play Finland at 10:15 a.m. in Cologne while Canada will play Germany (time TBA) in Paris in the quarterfinal round on Thursday.

The other two matchups, which will also be played Thursday, will pit Switzerland against Sweden and Russia against the Czech Republic. 


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