U.S. falls to Finland

Updated: May 12, 2010, 7:12 PM ET
Associated Press

COLOGNE, Germany -- The United States lost its third straight game at the ice hockey world championships, going down 3-2 to Finland on Wednesday, and will now fight against relegation.

The Americans, Olympic silver medalists, came into the annual tournament hoping to win their third gold and first since 1960 but will now have to finish in the top two of four teams in the relegation round to avoid demotion.

The last time the U.S. team lost all three games at the worlds was 2003. The Americans avoided relegation.

"It's very disappointing. Nobody wants to get into the relegation round. This group of guys has a lot of pride and we just have to make the best of it," coach Scott Gordon said. "There's a fine line between winning and losing. And we just haven't been able to get on the positive side of that yet. We've been very happy with the attitudes and work ethics of these guys. But we are just an offensively challenged team."

The United States led 3:30 into the game after David Moss' shot deflected off Finland defenseman Topi Jaakola and into the goal.

American goalie Scott Clemmensen made a fine save against Antti Pihlstrom on a breakaway midway through the second period.

But the Florida Panthers goalie could not stop Leo Komarov's blast from just inside the blue line into the upper right corner with four minutes left in the second period.

Clemmensen was beaten again from long range 18 seconds into the third period when Petteri Nummelin found the upper left corner from just inside the blue line on a power play to put Finland up 2-1.

Finland captain Sami Kapanen made it 3-1 with a breakaway goal with 2:02 left in the game.

"We had to push forward looking for some scoring and that left us a little bit open for their counterattack. It wasn't easy for us," Gordon said.

T.J. Oshie scored with 17 seconds remaining.

Finland topped Group D with six points, one more than Germany and Denmark. The U.S. got two points from overtime losses.

Germany ended Denmark's impressive run by winning 3-1 with Felix Schutz scoring his second game-winning goal after having hit the go-ahead goal in overtime against the Americans in the tournament opener.

In Group B, Latvia beat Italy 5-2 and Olympic champion Canada lost its first match of the tournament with Switzerland's Martin Pluss scoring once and setting up two goals in a 4-1 victory.

It was Switzerland's first victory over Canada in 76 years at the worlds.

"They played the same way at the Olympics," said Corey Perry, the only member of Canada to play at both tournaments.

"They play that skating game and they frustrate you," he said. "They clog up the neutral zone, they're a good team and you can't underestimate them. Their goalie played well, they played well defensively and they got some bounces early in the game."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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