World Championship Roundup: Canada, Sweden Closer to Quarter-Final Spots

Canada is still in the hunt for a quarter-final spot in Riga, while Sweden and Denmark also left with a smile on their faces. Meanwhile, Latvia's road to the playoffs just got a little bit harder.
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IIHF men's world championship

Canada Edges Kazakhstan to Keep Quarter-Final Hopes Alive

Canada and Kazakhstan don't have a storied history at the men's level: the last two meetings between them were at the 1998 Olympics and 2012 men's World Championship. Canada won both of them in a convincing fashion, but its 4-2 win against Kazakhstan on Friday was anything but easy.

The win keeps Canada in sixth place in Group B with six points, but just three points behind Germany for second. Canada will need a bit of luck along the way, but regulation wins against Italy and Finland to close the tournament should help. Kazakhstan still has to play Italy and Norway, two teams Kazakhstan is ahead of in the standings.

The game started off positively for Canada, with Andrew Mangiapane poking in a loose puck on a scramble in front just six minutes into the game. Playing in his first World Championship game, Andrei Shutov stopped 15 shots in the first period to keep his team in the game, something that would be very important leading into the final stages of the contest.

Just 1:01 into the second period, Canada doubled its advantage. Owen Power's blast from the blueline was re-directed by Adam Henrique just in front of the net, going above its projected trajectory to beat Shutov. 

But three minutes later, Nikita Mikhailis got the puck from a confused Jaret Anderson-Dolan and ripped it past Darcy Kuemper, putting Kazakhstan on the board. Canada continued to control the shot count, but Kazakhstan would strike next to tie the game up at two. At 1:31 in the third, Mikhailis would grab his second of the night after his wrist shot hit Kuemper and bounced in, putting fear into a Canadian team that was in a must-win situation. 

But at 47:40, Cole Perfetti scored his first men's national team goal off of a powerful wrist shot and Connor Brown added an empty-netter with three seconds to go to give Canada the 4-2 win - a game that nearly fell away from them despite a strong first half.

Sweden Rebounds With Win Over Great Britain

Less than 24 hours after blowing a 2-0 lead in the third period to the Czech Republic, Sweden bounced back with a 4-1 win over Great Britain to put itself in a playoff spot for the first time all tournament.

The playoff spot didn't last for long, however. With Denmark's win in the evening, Sweden slipped back to fifth place with meetings against Slovakia and Russia still to come.

Sweden's game started with a struggle. At 7:29 in the first, Liam Kirk scored his fifth of the tournament when he got what looked to be a harmless shot on net. Brendan Connolly was knocked down by Rickard Rakell on the play and fell into Viktor Fasth, who couldn't make the stop on the play. Connolly was shoved in and the goal was deemed good as a result, giving Britain a surprising 10 lead. 

Unfortunately, they'd only have the lead for eight minutes. Marcus Sorensen opened things up for Sweden on the power play at 15:18 when he sent Victor Olofsson's pass behind Ben Bowns for the 1-1 goal. The tie would last until the 27:00 mark when Lawrence Pilut danced past two British defenders and found Jonathan Pudas standing all alone, with Pudas sending a one-timer past Bowns.

From there, Mario Kempe scored twice - once in the second and once in the third - to make it 4-1, a score that would give Sweden just its second regulation win of the tournament.

Norway Beats Latvia to Put Hosts in Tough Spot

The ultra-competitive tournament in Riga continues with Norway beating Latvia 4-3 in shootout to close out Friday's action in Riga.

Latvia will remain in fourth place in Group B, but could have challenged for the top spot had it pulled off the win. With games against Finland (first) and Germany (second) still to go, the points will be harder to earn, so the overtime loss was a big blow for the host nation.

Norway struck early in the first period, with Sondre Olden opening the goal-scoring at just 3:50 after scoring in a scramble in front. Eight minutes later, Renars Krastenbergs answered back with a good shot and Ronalds Kenins scored again to give Latvia a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. 

Latvia would lose a key member of the team in the second period when Mikelis Redlihs hit his head on the boards after a hit from Magnus Brekke Henriksen. Redlihs needed help getting off the ice and Henriksen was awarded a two-minute minor for interference.

Early period goals were Norway's specialty on Friday. Just 1:08 into the second, Ken Andre Olimb blocked a shot while playing shorthanded and grabbed his own breakaway to tie it up at two. 

The two teams traded chances but it was Norway's goal just 1:56 into the third that changed the course of the game. With extra space, Emilio Pettersen's shot beat Matiss Kilenieks, giving Norway its second lead of the game. It wouldn't last for long, as eight minutes later, Kristians Rubins scored from a very tough angle, somehow getting the puck under Henrik Haukeland's pads and in to make it 3-3.

The game required a shootout to decide the victor, and it took two goals by Norway to decide it. Michael Haga scored the game-winner on the final shot, outlasting Matiss Kivlenieks on the blocker side before squeezing it over the goal line to secure the win.

Danes Nip Belarus in Tight Affair

The game was close for about 50 minutes, but a great third-period march by Denmark swung the balance of the battle to take the 5-2 win. 

Denmark moves into fourth place with eight points, knocking Sweden out after a couple hour stay in the top four. The gap between first and fourth is just one point, but Russia, Switzerland and Slovakia all have 

Artyom Demkov opened the scoring at just 2:12 made some good moves around a Danish defender before beating Sebastian Dahm on a quick release to make it 1-0. Nicolai Meyer answered back with the only goal of the opening period on the man advantage at 5:29 to give Denmark a bit of life. 

But the Danes couldn't build upon the goal, and Belarus would take the lead back instead. At 30:20 on the power play, Mikhail Stefanovich finished off a passing play between Stepan Falkovsky and Alexei Protas to give Belarus the lead back - but one that wouldn't last. Third-period goals from Matthias Asperup, Markus Lauridsen, Mathias From and Alexander True gave Norway a 5-2 lead, with all four goals coming in an eight-minute span in which Belarus couldn't generate much themselves.

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Three Stars

1. Adam Henrique, F (CAN): A goal and two assists in yet another great game for Canada's best player at this tournament so far.

2. Alex True, F (DEN): A goal and an assist late in the game to help lead Denmark to the victory. Became an impact when he needed to the most.

3. Andrei Shutov, G (KAZ): The third time a Kazakh goaltender appears on this list, but Shutov earned it in his first start. Should have been a more one-sided game but he came up big.

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May 29 Schedule

Czech Republic vs. Great Britain - 5:15 AM ET
Italy vs. Kazakhstan - 5:15 AM ET
Norway vs. USA - 9:15 AM ET
Switzerland vs. Russia - 9:15 AM ET
Germany vs. Finland - 1:15 PM ET
Slovakia vs. Denmark - 1:15 PM ET

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