World Championship Recap: Final Playoff Spots Still in the Air

Canada and Sweden were able to save their tournaments on Sunday with big victories, but it's still not over as a cluster of teams in both groups look to spice things up.
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Canada Focused on Finland After Big Win Over Italy

Canada will set its sights on a must-win game against Finland on Tuesday after crushing Italy 7-1 on Sunday.

Unfortunately for Canada, Latvia taking Finland to overtime means Canada's hopes are no longer in their hands. If Germany wins in any fashion and Kazakhstan wins in regulation on Monday, Canada will not advance to the next round, regardless of if the team wins or not against Finland.

It was fitting that, playing against an Italian team with a handful of Canadians, that a Canadian with an Italian surname could score first for Canada. Cole Perfetti recorded his second of the tournament after Braden Schneider's shot from the point was tipped by Perfetti, but stopped by Justin Fazio. Perfetti was able to knock the puck loose and beat Fazio for the 1-0 goal at just 2:33 in the game.

Keeping with the Canadian-Italian goal-scoring theme, Andrew Mangiapane made it 2-0 at 8:04 when he went 1-on-1 with Daniel Glira. Glira swung his stick to deflect the puck away but instead put it behind his own goalie to extend Canada's lead. Canada was unrelenting in its pressure, with Troy Stecher and Adam Henrique scoring on back-to-back scoring chances before the clock struck the 12-minute mark to take the 4-0 lead, chasing Fazio from the net in favor of Davide Fadani.

The scoring took a backseat in the second, but both added to their count. Angelo Miceli scored on a scramble in front at 30:31 in a play that was reviewed for goaltender interference but was considered a good goal. Mangiapane and Maxime Comtois would answer back with goals to end the period, giving Canada a 6-1 lead heading into the second intermission. Brandon Pirri scored the lone goal in the third to finish off scoring.

Switzerland Battling for Top Spot After Beating Belarus

The competitive Group A fight remains exactly that: competitive. 

With Switzerland's 6-0 win over Belarus on Sunday, they put themselves in a three-way tie with Slovakia and Russia for first in the tournament, with Switzerland taking the top spot in the interim.

Switzerland needed just 36 seconds to score the game's first goal. Christoph Bertschy got the fun started after Fabrice Herzog passed him the puck after cruising around the Belarusian net and Bertschy made no mistake in beating Konstantin Shostak. 

The 1-0 lead would last until 18:01 when Joel Vermin got the rebound off of a Timo Meier scoring chance, giving Switzerland a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission. 

Out of the break, Switzerland wasted no time adding another goal. Sven Andrighetto got one of his own on a wrist shot from a Vermin pass, beating Shostak on his final shot against in the game before Alexei Kolosov took over. Kolosov had a good period, but Gregory Hofmann scored with about nine minutes to go in the frame to make it 4-0, a lead Belarus had no chance of erasing. Vermin and Herzog added additional goals in the third to rub salt in the wound for an already battered Belarus team that saw six players skate off nursing injuries, although most returned to the ice.

Latvia Grabs Point to Keep Playoff Battle Spicy

There were just four seconds left on the clock in overtime when Anton Lundell scored the 3-2 goal for Finland, securing the win and giving his team firm control of first place in Group B.

Finland now has a three-point cushion over USA before the Americans meet up with Germany and Italy to close out the tournament. Latvia, on the other hand, has to beat Germany on Tuesday to qualify for the quarter-finals, but the point earned means Canada needs a bit of luck along the way to move on.

Finland strike first at just 3:06. Captain Marko Anttila did the work to get the puck on net, but Latvian netminder Janis Kalnins kicked the puck to the right of the net. There, Saku Maenalanen knocked the disk off his knee and in, securing the 1-0 lead. 

The Finns took control of the game and forced Latvia to follow their lead, but Martins Dziekals tied the game up after a faceoff win late in the period to tie it up. Latvia had control in the second stanza but couldn't capitalize. At 35:39, Ville Pokka's point shot was redirected by Iiro Pakarinen to give the Finns the lead again, one they would hold until the latter stages of the contest.

At 53:45, after a flurry of scoring chances, Dziekals potted his second of the game. The goal came after Lauris Darzins had a strong drive to the net, but Dziekals was the one who knocked it over Harri Sateri and in for the goal that forced overtime.

Latvia looked hungry, but Anton Lundell had other plans. With just four seconds remaining on the clock and both teams buzzing around, Lundell was able to beat Kalnins to win the game by a score of 3-2, helping Finland take the top spot in the group with two days to go.

Reideborn Comes Up Big as Sweden Wins Important Battle

It's not common that a late-tournament game against Slovakia would be the difference of Sweden making the playoffs or not, but a 3-1 win will keep Sweden in the hunt for a quarter-final spot late in the running.

The win moves Sweden back into fourth place with nine points in Group A, while Slovakia stays put in third. Sweden has just one game to go, with the Czech Republic, sitting fifth in the standings, sitting a point behind Sweden after the Tre Kronor got off to a rough start with losses to Denmark and Belarus. 

Peter Cehlarik had the game's lone first-period goal with under a minute to go. His shot bounced off goaltender Adam Reideborn's blocker and in to give Slovakia the advantage after an impressive opening run by the team chasing first in the group. Unfortunately for the Slovaks, that was the only goal they were able to celebrate.

At the halfway point of the game, Marcus Sorensen's shot beat the first-time goaltender Adam Huska to make it 1-1. Then, with nine minutes left in the game, Victor Olofsson's goal on the man advantage gave Sweden its first lead, with Isac Lundestrom scoring a short-handed empty-netter late to seal the deal.

Reideborn came up big for Sweden, stopping 10 shots in the third and 29 total in a big effort that kept the team in contention for a playoff spot. Sweden will have its biggest game of the tournament on Monday, an evening meeting with a Russian team trying to take top spot in the group.

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Three Stars

1. Andrew Mangiapane, F (CAN): Four points in a big effort for the Canadian with an Italian surname against an Italian team with a bunch of Canadians.

2. Joel Vermin, F (SUI): Two goals and an assist in a great outing after not recording a point in three previous games. Playing with Timo Meier definitely helps.

3. Adam Reideborn, G (SWE): The Swedes needed a huge goalie performance from Reiderborn and he delivered with 29 stops on 30 shots.

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May 31 Schedule

Czech Republic vs. Denmark - 9:15 AM ET
USA vs. Germany - 9:15 AM ET
Norway vs. Kazakhstan - 1:15 PM ET
Russia vs. Sweden - 1:15 PM ET

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