By Bryan Burns – TampaBayLightning.com
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy posted his first shutout of the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship following a 21-save effort on Thursday to lead Russia to a 4-0 victory over Denmark in Cologne.
Russia (11 points) now owns three regulation wins and one shootout victory through four preliminary tournament games and leads Group A by two points over Latvia and the United States.
Vasilevskiy has allowed just five goals while playing all but one period for Russia. His .945 save percentage ranks fifth and his 1.33 goals-against average sixth among all tournament goalies with over 100 minutes of ice time.
Denmark held Russia without a goal for nearly two periods until the Russians finally broke through late in the second and scored three goals in a span of 1:10 to overcome a sluggish start.
Russia added an insurance tally in the third period.
Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov picked up an assist in the victory and now ranks tied for second in the tournament for scoring (3 goals, 4 assists). Vladislav Namestnikov didn’t record a point but had a shot and was plus-one in 16:54 for Russia.
Denmark has now lost three of its four preliminary games.
Russia returns to action Saturday when it takes on Slovakia.
Canada 3, France 2
Canada survived a scare from host France, rallying from a goal down in Paris to win 3-2 and improve to 4-0 during preliminary play.
France led heavily-favored Canada 2-1 late in the second period before the Canadians leveled the score on Claude Giroux’s power-play goal with 49 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Two of Canada’s three goals came on the power play.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic supplied the winning goal for Canada unassisted 2:22 into the third period.
Bolts forwards Brayden Point and Alex Killorn were held without a point in the victory. Point (14:19 time on ice versus France) ranks tied for fifth in the tournament for goals (3). Killorn (10:16 time on ice versus France) is still searching for his first tournament point.
Canada, the Group B leader with 12 points, next plays Saturday against Switzerland.
Team Canada is coached by Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.
Sweden 2, Latvia 0
Sweden has now grabbed seven points through four games to pull into fourth place in the Group A standings (the top four teams from each group at the end of preliminary play advance to the quarterfinal knockout stage).
Gabriel Landeskog broke the ice with the game’s opening goal at 9:13 of the first period. Elias Lindholm added a late tally with 3:18 remaining to seal the victory for Sweden.
Hedman was plus-two with four shots and led Sweden for time on ice (26:41).
Stralman notched three shots on goal in 21:44 time on ice.
Sweden has a quick turnaround as it takes on Italy in an early game on Friday.
Czech Republic 1, Norway 0 (OT)
Jan Kovar scored the overtime game-winner at 3:35 of the extra frame for the only goal in the Czech Republic’s 1-0 victory over Norway in Paris.
The Czech Republic’s Pavel Francouz stopped all 10 shots he faced to post a shutout. The Czech Republic, which is tied with two other teams for third place in Group B, outshot Norway 32-10.