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Niederreiter, Granlund, Kaprizov move on to quarterfinals at Worlds

All three of Minnesota's participants advance to elimination rounds in Denmark

by Kayleigh Jackson / Wild.com

Wrapping up the final day of the preliminary round of the IIHF World Championship, all three international teams with Wild players or prospects on their rosters are moving on to the quarterfinals. 

Both Nino Niederreiter's Swiss team and Mikael Granlund's Finnish squad took to the ice bright and early Tuesday morning at 5:15 CT. Kirill Kaprizov's Russians played at 1:15 p.m. CT and, falling in a hard-fought battle against Sweden, held onto second place in Group A. 

Switzerland earned a dominant 5-1 win over France to shore up fourth place in Group A. Wild forward Nino Niederreiter notched an assist on what would be the game-winning goal from childhood teammate Enzo Corvi. Niederreiter and Corvi are tied for 26th overall in the tournament with seven points apiece. 

Niederreiter finished up the preliminary round with three goals and four assists, eight penalty minutes, and a plus-5 rating. The Swiss remain in fourth, guaranteeing it will play the first-ranked team in Group B. 

That team will be Granlund's Finns. 

Though Finland and the United States both have 16 points, a victory over the U.S. on Tuesday ensured Finland would finish higher. Granlund notched one assist in his team's 6-2 win as teammate Sebastian Aho picked up a hat trick. 

Granlund finishes the preliminary round tied for 10th in the tourney with nine points, posting a stat line of two goals, seven assists, two penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating.

Later in the day, Kaprizov and the Russian team took on Sweden in a battle for first place in Group A. Prior to the game, Sweden held a one-point lead over the Russians; this contest would determine who would face the Canadians and who would take on Latvia in the quarterfinals. 

Kaprizov, who was on the wrong side of a hard hit during Monday's game against Slovakia, was back Tuesday in fine form. He opened the scoring just 2:44 into the first period, picking up a power-play goal on the tail end of a perfectly executed tic-tac-toe play. 

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: #RUSvsSWE From the back of the net straight into Kaprizov's stick, beating @trekronorse to the first goal. So, so good. @russiahockey pic.twitter.com/1yAMd5ulbJ

Unfortunately for the Russians, Kaprizov's tally would be the only time they'd find the back of the net. Sweden went on to win, 3-1, forcing Russia to square off against a tough Canadian team in the quarterfinals. 

Kaprizov finishes the preliminary round 20th overall with seven points: five goals, two assists, zero penalty minutes and a +8. 

The quarterfinals begin Thursday. Russia and Canada will play in Copenhagen at 9:15 a.m. CT, while Finland and Switzerland play in Herning at 1:15 p.m. CT.

The other two matches will pit the USA against the Czech Republic (9:15 a.m. CT in Herning) and Sweden against Latvia (1:15 p.m. CT in Copenhagen). 

Semifinal games are set for Saturday, both in Copenhagen. The winner of Sweden/Latvia will play the winner of USA/Czech Republic, while the winner of Finland/Switzerland will take on the winner of Russia/Canada. The top-seeded team will earn the earlier matchup, at 8:15 a.m. CT, while the other game is at 12:15 p.m. CT. 

The bronze medal game will be at 8:45 a.m. CT on Sunday, followed by the gold medal game at 1:15 p.m. CT.

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