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WORLDS RECAP: USA ADVANCES DESPITE OT LOSS TO SLOVAKIA

by Jourdon LaBarber / Buffalo Sabres

Jake McCabe, Hudson Fasching and the rest of Team USA had reason to celebrate even after allowing an overtime goal in a 3-2 loss to Slovakia at the IIHF World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday. By simply reaching the extra period, the U.S. had earned the point it needed in the standings to eliminate the Slovaks and advance to the Quarterfinal Round.

The U.S. will face the Czech Republic, which finished as the top seed in Group A with no regulation losses, in the next round on Thursday.

Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to Germany, the U.S. went down early as Christian Jaros scored to give Slovakia a 1-0 lead in the first period. They fought back, however, and it took less than eight minutes into the second period for Brock Nelson to tie the game and less than three minutes in the third for Nick Foligno to score and secure a 2-1 lead.

Pavol Skalicky retied the score for Slovakia with 7:46 remaining in regulation, but the U.S. buckled down defensively from that point on. The U.S. survived the remainder of the third period, including 53 seconds of shorthanded hockey after Slovakia pulled its goalie in the final minute, knowing they simply needed to come out of regulation with the score tied.

Fasching played 13:31 of ice time and tied Nelson with a game-high four shots on goal. McCabe logged 20:49, third only to fellow defensemen Noah Hanifin and Chris Wideman.


LAT 1 – NOR 3
Thanks to Denmark's win over Kazakhstan on Monday afternoon, Zemgus Girgensons and Latvia were eliminated from quarterfinal contention even before their 3-1 loss to Norway in Moscow on Tuesday. The Latvians finish with a record of 1-3-0-3.

Latvia struck first on Wednesday with a power-play goal from Miks Indrasis in the first period, but Norway responded with three unanswered goals. Two of those goals came in the opening minute of the second period, forcing Latvia to pull goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.

Girgensons registered one shot in 20:55 of ice time. He finished his tournament with one goal in seven games but led the team with 21 shots.


CAN 0 – FIN 4
After outscoring their opponents 34-4 through their first six games, the Canadians couldn’t get on the board at all in a battle between undefeated teams that clinched the top seed in Group B for Finland. Canada finishes second and will face Sweden, the third-place team in Group A, in the Quarterfinal Round on Thursday.

Following a scoreless first period, Canada let the game get away from them by allowing three goals in the second. Tommi Kivisto, Leo Komarov and Mika Pyorala scored to fuel the three-goal lead and Jarno Koskiranta capped the scoring with a marker in the third.    

Canada outshot Finland 21-19 but Finnish goalie Mikko Koskinen was up to task, earning his fifth win and first shutout of the tournament. Cam Talbot took the loss in net for Canada.  

Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly registered two shots in 16:46 of ice time. Sam Reinhart played six shifts totaling 5:51.

The loss snaps a streak of 16-straight wins for Canada dating back to the 2015 World Championship.


UP NEXT
With group play officially complete, the matchups for Thursday's Quarterfinal Round are set. The U.S. and Czech Republic will kick things off in Moscow at 9:15 a.m. EST, live on NBCSN and NBCSN Live Extra. Finland will play Denmark at the same time in St. Petersburg.

Canada's matchup with Sweden is set for 1:15 p.m. EST in St. Petersburg, at which time Russia will play Germany in Moscow. The winners will advance to the Semifinal Round on Saturday.

 

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