Leo Komarov of Finland, left, challenges Denmarks Daniel Nielsen during the Hockey World Championships quarterfinal match between Finland and Denmark in St.Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, May 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Dmitri Lovetsky
May 19, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) The United States upended the odds and downed the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout to reach the semifinals of the ice hockey world championship on Thursday.

That sets up a semifinal on Saturday against Canada, which pounded Sweden 6-0.

Russia and Finland contest the other semifinal.

Loaded with young talent, the Americans came into the game as heavy underdogs after losing four times in the group stage. But they managed to eliminate an experienced Czech team that won its group.

Auston Matthews, still only 18, scored in the second period to tie the game and later scored the only goal in the shootout, sliding the puck between Czech goaltender Dominik Furch's legs.

''I just wanted to open his legs, go five-hole,'' Matthews said. ''I was able to sneak it in there, so it worked out.''

Matthews is widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in next month's NHL draft.

''He almost presses too hard sometimes, you know. I talked to him, I said `You know, your moment's going to come,' and sure enough it comes in the shootout,'' teammate Nick Foligno said. ''He's just young and he's learning but he's got all the tools and all the talent.''

Tomas Zohorna gave the Czechs the lead with a penalty shot after Patrick Maroon was penalized for hooking Zohorna on a U.S. power play.

American goalie Keith Kinkaid saved all three Czech shots in the shootout.

The U.S. was outshot 29-20 in regulation, including 8-2 in the first, but piled on the pressure in 10 minutes of four-on-four overtime, forcing Furch to make seven saves, including a stick save on a shot from Chris Wideman.

The semifinal against Canada is a rematch from group play, when the Canadians routed the U.S. 5-1 in both teams' opening game.

In St. Petersburg, Mark Scheifele and Mark Stone shone for Canada with a goal and two assists each in the dominant win over Sweden.

Scheifele gave Canada a 1-0 lead at the end of the first before the Canadians hammered Sweden with three goals in six minutes in the second. Matt Dumba scored with a slapshot from the blue line, Brad Marchand made it 3-0 with a wrist shot, and Max Domi scored the fourth.

Cam Talbot made 24 saves for the shutout, the fourth for defending champion Canada. Coach Bill Peters praised Talbot and the team for responding well after a 4-0 loss to Finland in the last game of the round robin. ''The goaltender had a really good bounce-back game and so did our team,'' he said.

The game against Sweden was ''much closer than the score indicates,'' he added, saying Canada benefited from some lucky bounces.

Host Russia came back from 1-0 down to beat Germany 4-1. There were two goals and one assist for tournament scoring leader Vadim Shipachyov, who has 16 points from eight games, while Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal since arriving from the NHL playoffs.

Finland, the only unbeaten team in the tournament, won 5-1 against Denmark, which was in the quarterfinals for only the second time ever. Center Mikael Granlund scored twice.

Russia coach Oleg Znarok said he was wary of the Finns ahead of the semifinal.

''They are a good team, mobile. Perhaps the best team we could play at this stage,'' he said.

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