Team USA advances to second round at Worlds
BERN, Switzerland (AP) -- The United States found its ruthless streak -- eventually -- and beat Austria 6-1 Monday to advance to the second round of the ice hockey world championship.
Coach Ron Wilson challenged his team when it held a 2-1 lead after two periods against the Group C outsiders.
"I think they responded somewhat to my challenge," Wilson said. "We could have put it away fairly early had we scored on some of our wide open chances. We were a little bit casual."
That comeback victory looked more impressive after the Latvians upset 8-time champion Sweden in a shootout after a 2-2 tie in a late game Monday.
"It's a historic day for us. It's the first win in all the years that we've played Sweden," said Latvia captain Karlis Skrastins, the veteran Florida Panthers defenseman. "If we can beat them we can play against any other team."
Sweden still advances to the second round with a point earned in the loss. Finland goes through after beating Denmark 5-1.
The Czech Republic also progressed Monday, scoring three times in the opening 13 minutes in its 5-2 win over Norway in Zurich.
The Americans took the lead at 15:11 in Bern when Brown, the Los Angeles Kings captain, scored after drifting across the front of goal and netting a backhander.
The United States made it 2-0 midway through the second after goalie Robert Esche saved a slap shot from Matthias Trattnig. At the other end, Stafford tapped in a loose puck in the crease when Nick Foligno's shot was saved.
Esche was stranded out of goal when Austria scored soon after. He misplaced a pass and Markus Peintner scored from beyond the left circle.
Esche, who plays for St. Petersburg in Russia, had 25 saves for his second win of the tournament.
Fresh from Wilson's locker room lecture, the two-goal gap was restored 25 seconds into the third when O'Sullivan matched Stafford by scoring for the second straight game.
Three more goals came on power plays. Blake scored from close range, Stempniak hit a first-time shot from the left circle, and Niskanen scored during a late 5-on-3.
"Our power play was huge today," Brown said. "It's going to need to be good against Sweden and throughout the tournament. That could be a difference maker for us."
The Americans play Sweden on Wednesday to complete their preliminary round program in Group C.
"We are obviously going to need that killer instinct when we play the Swedes," Wilson said. "They are a very good team, a puck possession team, and play a little different from what we've seen so far."
Sweden led in the first through Linus Omark but Latvia got two goals in the second from Krisjanis Redlihs, on a power play, and Lauris Darzins.
Magnus Johansson tied the game early in the third but neither side scored in five minutes of overtime.
It was 2-2 on penalty shots when Aleksandrs Nizivijs scored in sudden death and Latvia goalie Edgars Masalskis made a pad save on Johansson's effort.
The Czech Republic's victory means it will line up in the qualification round featuring two groups of six teams which begins play Thursday.
Jan Marek, Petr Cajanek and Josef Vasicek scored in the first period before Norway replaced goaltender Pal Grotnes with Andre Lysenstoen and closed the gap to 4-2 with goals from Tommy Jakobsen and Mats Zuccarello Assen.
Miroslav Blatak scored in between and Jakub Klepis added the other for the Czechs, who finish the first round Wednesday against Group D favorite Finland.
The Finns beat Denmark in Zurich with five unanswered goals after trailing to Julian Jakobsen's goal in the first. Antti Miettinen and Niko Kapanen each scored twice and Tuomas Pihlman also found the net.