COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — The United States defeated Slovakia 6-1 Sunday to stretch its winning run at the ice hockey world championship to five games ahead of its Group A showdown with Russia.
Johnny Gaudreau finished with two goals to take his tournament tally to six, and an assist, while Jimmy Howard made 19 saves on his fourth start for the Americans, whose confidence seems to be growing.
Still, U.S. head coach Jeff Blashill saw room for improvement before the next game against Russia on Tuesday.
“One thing we have to clean up is puck management and turning pucks over,” Blashill said.
Kevin Hayes and Brady Skjei played their first game on joining the side following the New York Rangers’ elimination from the NHL playoffs.
Skjei had an assist while Hayes picked up two and Blashill praised both for their performances.
Clayton Keller, the youngest player at the tournament, opened the scoring, assisted by Anders Lee and Skjei. It was the 18-year-old Keller’s fifth goal of the championship.
Gaudreau followed suit early in the second period, set up by Hayes before Martin Gernat pulled one back.
Two quick-fire goals from Christian Dvorak, assisted by Gaudreau, and Jacob Trouba put the U.S. in a comfortable position.
Gaudreau grabbed his second of the game to start the third period — Hayes again with the assist — before Lee scored on a power play.
The U.S. moved top of Group A, one point ahead of Russia, which has a game in hand. Before The Russians first face Latvia on Monday, when the U.S. is not in action.
The Czech Republic dented France’s hopes of making the quarterfinals with a 5-2 victory in Paris.
Co-host French failed to make the most of two 5-on-3 chances and more power play time, 10:35 compared to just 2:43 for the Czechs.
France remained sixth on seven points in Group B with only one game remaining, while the teams it can catch, Norway and Finland on eight and nine points respectively, both have two games remaining.
The top four in each group go through to the quarterfinals.
Later Sunday, Denmark was playing Sweden in Group A, while Switzerland faced Finland in Group B.
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