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U.S. beats Germany, will face Canada for group title

5/5/2007

MYTISCHI, Russia -- The U.S. and Finland
recorded shutout wins to clinch quarterfinal berths at the ice
hockey world championship on Saturday, while Slovakia edged the
Czech Republic 3-2 to keep their hopes of advancing alive.

Carolina Hurricanes' John Grahame turned in another superb
effort in the U.S. net, stopping 23 shots as the Americans
blanked Germany 3-0.

In contrast, Fredrik Norrena was only required to make 12
saves in Finland's 3-0 win over Italy at Moscow's Khodynka
Arena.

The Finnish victory meant Switzerland, who beat Denmark 4-1,
also secured a final eight spot.

Sweden, Russia, Finland and Switzerland have locked up the
quarterfinal places in Group E. Only Canada and the U.S. are
guaranteed to move on in a competitive Group F.

Colorado Avalanche rookie Paul Stastny scored a pair of
goals as the U.S. brought Germany back to reality after their
upset win over the Czechs in the opening game of the qualifying
round.

St. Louis Blues' Lee Stempniak also scored for the Americans
who close out preliminary round play Monday against Canada in a
contest that could decide the top spot in the group.

"Coaches prepared us well, we didn't come in here thinking
it was going to be an easy game," Stastny told reporters. "They
beat the Czechs and the Czechs beat us. Once you get to this
round anybody can beat anybody."

Jari Viuhkola scored twice and Jukka Hentunen also found the
net as Finland eased past Italy.

Norrena was barely tested in the Finnish goal notching his
second shutout of the tournament.

Minnesota Wild teammates Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra
each scored as Slovakia and the Czech Republic renewed one of
international sport's most intense rivalries. The two halves of
the former Czechoslovakia came together in front of a raucous
crowd at the Mytishchi Arena.

After back-to-back losses to Canada and the U.S., the
Slovaks stopped the slide, moving into a tie for third place in
the group alongside the Czechs with six points.

Canada and the U.S. top the group with nine points while
Germany has three and Belarus zero.

The Czechs were first on to the scoreboard when Montreal
Canadiens Tomas Plekanec snapped a wrist shot from the right
faceoff circle past Karol Krizan for the first period's only
goal.

Slovakia hit back with a pair of second period tallies.
Demitra converted a power-play chance before Richard Kapus
hammered home a loose puck from close range on a delayed penalty
call.

Gaborik opened up a two-goal cushion notching his fourth of
the tournament with just over six minutes to go in the third
period but Rostislav Klesla replied for the Czechs 45 seconds
later to set up a nail-biting finish.

After scoring just four goals in their previous four games,
the Swiss attack finally came to life, doubling their offensive
production against the Danes and eliminating them from medal
contention.

Julien Sprunger counted twice for Switzerland while Thibaut
Monnet and Paul di Pietro each had a powerplay goal.