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

Updated: May 5, 2007, 4:21 PM ET
Reuters

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.

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