OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC – Day 8 of the 2015 IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic featured four games with potentially big implications in the standings. Here's what you need to know:
Team USA defeated Denmark 1-0 and retook the top spot in Group B thanks to a wrap-around goal in the second period by Brock Nelson. He now leads the team in goals (4) and scoring (6 points).
"Tough game. Tight checking. Not a lot of chances both ways, but we found a way to win. That's the main thing right now. It's a big bounce back game for us and a big three points," Nelson said.
"We were sloppy for a lot of it. Obviously, [goaltender Connor] Hellebuyck played unreal and made some huge breakaway saves,” said U.S. defenseman Connor Murphy. “We're going to play better teams and we need to keep those easy chances from happening, but overall we had better emotion and drive in this game compared to our last game. We'll take the win and move on to the next one."
After a loss to Belarus on Thursday, many U.S. players said they needed to play a simpler game and stop trying to make the cute plays at the blue line and allow the other team to force turnovers and generate odd-man rushes. They did better on Friday, but Denmark still had a handful of quality breakaway and odd-man chances that went high or were stopped by Hellebuyck.
"There were moments where we played the simple game," coach Todd Richards said. "When the game was on the line late in the third, that was our focus and we executed that well, but there were too many times tonight they were looking for the next pass or looking for the next play and it led to turnovers and they generated opportunities from those plays.
“You have to give Denmark credit for how they played - hard, coming after us and forcing us into certain turnovers - but we didn't manage the puck the way we need to for us to have success. Again, we won the game, but we were fortunate to get out of there with a 1-0 win."
Tyler Ennis and Team Canada - the only undefeated team left in the tournament - practiced today after an off day yesterday following their 6-4 come from behind win against Sweden and there was a big emphasis on starting the game stronger.
"Every game here is like a Game 7 and you're not going to play your best game every night," said center Matt Duchene. "All it takes is one team - doesn't even matter who that team is - to catch you on a bad game or a bad start and we almost got caught last game.
“We had a terrible start against Sweden and they jumped all over us. Fortunately, we have the talent that we do that can come back in a game like that, but there have been years that I've been here where we didn't have that talent or that depth and we weren't able to comeback and ended up losing. That's one thing about this team that's really positive, but we can't take that for granted."
Norway scored three power-play goals to defeat Slovenia 3-1. Slovenia has yet to earn a point in the tournament and has just two more opportunities to do so - Sunday against Team USA and Monday against Denmark - the latter of which could ultimately determine which team is relegated to Division I and who stays in the Top Division to compete in next year's World Championship in Russia.
The Czech Republic scored three goals in eight minutes in the second period to put a strangle hold on Austria and help them send the home crowd happy with a 4-0 win. The Czechs put up 42 shots on goal to Austria's 12.
Germany earned their first win of the tournament - a come from behind 2-1 decision over Latvia. The Germans scored twice in the third, including the game winner with 2:25 left in regulation, and improved their chances of avoiding relegation in Group A, but in no way are they out of the woods since the bottom four teams are separated by just one point.
Saturday, there are six games on the docket:
6:15 a.m. ET - Belarus vs. Russia
10:15 a.m. ET - Finland vs. Slovakia
2:15 p.m. ET - Denmark vs. Norway
6:15 a.m. ET - France vs. Canada - available on TSN in Canada
10:15 a.m. ET Austria vs. Latvia
2:15 p.m. ET - Sweden vs. Switzerland