The IIHF World Championship continued with some exciting action today. Firstly, although it does not pertain to the Devils, congratulations to Great Britain who prevailed over France in overtime to avoid relegation and play in next year’s Worlds. Likewise, congrats to Italy, who also staved off relegation by beating Austria in a shootout. The Italians had not scored a goal through their first few games in the round-robin but were able to persevere and fought back to win this one. Austria will join France in relegation as they try to fight their way back to the World Championship for 2021.
Now onto games that really matter to Devils fans. First Sweden outlasted Latvia 5-4 in Group B.
Elias Pettersson got the Swedes going by scoring on the power play 10:15 into the first period. Oskars Batna had gone off for a hold putting Sweden on the man advantage and Pettersson was able to capitalize.
The Swedes took that 1-0 lead into the second when, at 7:47, Oliver Ekman-Larsson was called for a slash. Roberts Bukarts scored on the power play for Latvia, leveling the game at one.
Adrian Kempe would put Sweden back on top at 2-1 when he scored an even strength goal at the 13:38 mark of the second period. Before the end of the second, Adam Larsson was called for high-sticking which would put the Latvians on the power play to start the third period.
And Latvia would respond. Bukarts scored unassisted for his second of the afternoon just 1:11 into the third to tie the game up at two.
Just 2:31 later, Latvia took the lead at 3-2 when Janis Jaks notched one. That lead was short-lived however when Sweden’s Anton Lander tied it at the 9:00 mark. This one was back-and-forth and seemed destined for a great finish.
At 10:09 of the third, Patric Hornqvist gave the Swedes back the lead at 4-3 but that would only last about three minutes. Bukarts completed his hat trick at 16:36 of the third to knot the game back up, this time at four.
Latvia would draw a power play when Sweden’s Adrian Kempe was called for delay of game following the fourth Latvian goal. Towards the end of that power play, Latvia pulled goalie Kristers Gudlevskis in favor of Elvis Merzlikins and then they promptly pulled Merzlikins. They needed the win and took the risk but Dennis Rasmusssen scored into the empty net for Sweden giving them the 5-4 lead.
And that was the final. Gudlevskis was put back in net and he finished out the final thirty seconds or so of the game.
The Latvian goaltenders made 30 saves on 35 Swedish shots. Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves on 29 shots against. Jesper Bratt played just 2:44 over three shifts and was an even plus/minus.
Sweden will next take on Russia tomorrow in their round-robin finale.
Five seemed to be today’s magic number as Canada blanked Denmark 5-0 in Group A action in Kosice.
Canada took a 1-0 lead just one minute into the game, scoring when Pierre-Luc Dubois took a nice pass from Jonathan Marchessault as he reversed course behind the Danish net and passed from behind the short side of the net.
Canada added another one at 6:06 when Jared McCann made it 2-0. Marchessault finished off the first period scoring for the Canadians when he tipped a Damon Severson shot by Danish goaltender Patrick Galbraith. The goal was reviewed for a high-stick but was deemed a good goal. This came at 8:23.
In the second period, Canada was put on the power play when Markus Lauridsen of Denmark was called for a high stick. Sam Reinhart scored at 13:53 to make it 4-0 Canada and notch his first of two on the afternoon.
Reinhart scored his second 4:34 into the third period on a goal that was also reviewed for a high stick. It counted as well and Reinhart had his second goal of the game and the Canadians had a 5-0 lead. This would go on to be our final as Canada cruised to victory.
Starting goalie Carter Hart was pulled at the 10:56 mark of the third in favor of Mackenzie Blackwood as Blackwood was given some time in the tournament and Hart was given some time to rest. It was a nice gesture from Canadian coach Alain Vigneault. Blackwood preserved the shut out and the Canadian goalies combined to stop all 24 Danish shots that they saw. Galbraith stopped 29 of 34 Canadian shots for Denmark.
Damon Severson has the assist for the point, three total shots on goal and was a plus-2 in 17:26 of time on ice (23 shifts).
Canada takes on the Americans tomorrow in a biggie of a game to finish off round-robin play for both teams.
So games on tap for tomorrow include: Finland versus Germany, Czech Republic versus Switzerland, Slovakia versus Denmark, Canada versus USA and Sweden versus Russia. See you then!