Russia, Switzerland, Sweden advance
Eight teams will battle over the next two days for the five remaining quarterfinal spots
A pair of Lightning prospects and Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin enjoyed a successful outing today at the World Championships in Germany, while a number of other Bolts in action this afternoon helped their respective teams advance deeper into the tournament despite being kept off the score sheet.
In Sunday’s premier matchup, Tampa Bay signee Johan Harju scored a goal and finished with a plus-one rating, while Victor Hedman came in second on the team with 18:34 of ice time to lead Sweden to a 3-1 win past Canada, who played without the injured Steven Stamkos. Canadian forward and Lightning winger Steve Downie logged over 13 minutes of playing time and also registered a plus-one rating in the loss.
Russia remained unbeaten in the tournament thanks to a hat trick by Pavel Datsyuk in the team’s 6-1 win over Denmark, an effort that was backstopped by Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin, who made 30 saves on 31 shots against after enjoying a day of rest on Saturday.
Tampa Bay defenseman Mike Lundin assisted on a goal by Brandon Dubinsky to help Team USA capture its second consecutive victory as it blanked France 4-0, while Martins Karsums tied for a team-high plus-two rating in a 5-0 shutout of Norway. Belarus, playing without the Bolts defensive hopeful Kirill Gotovets, earned a 2-1 victory over Germany and Italy beat Kazakhstan by the same score to wrap up the day’s action.
Harju put Sweden on the board quickly when he skated up a wide-open wing and fired a shot past Canadian goaltender Chris Mason just 2:13 into the contest. The goal to open the game sparked a rally that included a pair of quick scores by Jonas Andersson in the second period, which proved to be enough to push Sweden into a tie for first place with Switzerland in Group F with nine points. Brooks Laich finally gave the Canadian fans something to cheer about seven minutes into the third period when stole a pass from the blue line, deked, and walked in to cut the deficit to two, but it was not enough to avoid sending his team into third place with six points. Canada will conclude its qualification round schedule on Tuesday against the Czech Republic.
Koschechkin, who has played an essential role between the pipes in Russia’s success thus far throughout the tournament, showed once again why he entered Sunday’s game with the highest save percentage of all Russian goaltenders. The Lightning net minding prospect allowed only one shot to get past him in the second period, but remained perfect throughout the final 35 minutes of regulation to earn Russia its 23rd consecutive win at the World Championships.
Team USA responded to a scoreless first period by finding the back of the net twice in each of the last two periods. Nick Foligno recorded a pair of goals for the Americans and T.J. Oshie also added a goal. Lundin set up Dubinsky at 13:11 to help the United States take a 2-0 lead in the middle stanza before doubling the margin. The win put the Americans, now with six points, in a prime position to avoid being relegated to international hockey’s second tier. The Italians, however, beat Kazakhstan 2-1 on Sunday, creating the possibility of a three-way knot for first place when the relegation round ends Tuesday.
Latvia battled through two periods of scoreless hockey before exploding for five unanswered goals in the final frame to earn the country its third point as it kept alive its slim chances of making it to the quarterfinal round. In addition to earning a plus-two rating, Karsums tallied one shot on goal and logged 15:33 in ice time.
Monday the action continues as Norway takes on Switzerland, and Lightning prospects Richard Panik and Vladimir Mihalik attempt to lift Slovakia over Finland. Karsums and Team Latvia will also battle the Czech Republic, while Gotovets looks forward to returning to action in Belarus’ matchup with Denmark.