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US wins at world juniors, will face Russia in quarters

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The United States made another late push to keep its momentum going into the medal round of the world junior hockey championship.

Adam Fox scored with 1:37 left in the third period to give the U.S. a 5-4 victory over Finland on Sunday in the Americans’ final preliminary-round game.

The defending champion Americans (3-1) finished second behind Canada in the Group B standings and will face Russia in the quarterfinals Tuesday.

Fox also had two assists, Joey Anderson scored twice, Casey Mittelstadt had a goal and two assists, Brady Tkachuk added three assists, and Joseph Woll stopped 20 shots.

”We are really confident and we believe in our group,” Tkachuk said. ”It’s a new tournament now, it starts on Tuesday, and we are excited.”

Canada (3-1) secured the top seed in Group A because of the point earned in its 4-3 shootout loss to the U.S. at the Buffalo Bills’ New Era Field on Friday. Canada will meet Switzerland in the quarterfinals.

Sweden (4-0) is the top seed in Group B and will play Slovakia in the quarterfinals. Oskar Steen scored the deciding goal in Sweden’s 4-3 shootout victory over Russia on Sunday night.

Earlier Sunday, Kristian Reichel scored twice in the Czech Republic’s 6-3 victory over Switzerland.

The Czech Republic (3-1) moved into second place in Group A and will face Finland in the quarterfinals.

Tuesday’s quarterfinal game between the Americans and Russians will be a rematch of last year’s semifinal, which the U.S. won 4-3 in a shootout for its first victory over Russia in a medal round game at the world juniors. Russia eliminated the U.S. in the quarterfinals in 2014 and 2015.

The U.S. came back from two goals down to defeat Canada in a shootout in last year’s gold medal game and repeated the feat in Friday’s outdoor game that set a tournament attendance record of 44,592.

In Sunday’s matchup between the American and Finnish teams that have won four of the last five gold medals, Finland came back from a three-goal deficit to tie it before Fox scored the winner on a partial breakaway after a lead pass from Mittelstadt.

Kristian Vesalainen and Joona Koppanen scored 66 seconds apart for Finland midway through the third period to tie it.

”There was no doubt on the bench that we were coming back and getting the next one,” said Anderson, the U.S. captain.

Trent Frederic and Mittelstadt scored in the first 15 minutes and Anderson’s goal on a 5-on-3 power gave the U.S. a 3-0 early in the second period. Aapeli Rasanen and Eeli Tolvanen got Finland within a goal before Anderson scored again on a power play in the closing minutes of the second.

”We came back the other day and today felt like a comeback,” Frederic said. ”It shows we can turn it on when we have to, but now we have to turn it on all game in the quarters.”

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 32 saves for Finland.

Mittelstadt, the University of Minnesota freshman and most recent first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, is the tournament’s leading scorer with nine points (four goals, five assists). Mittelstadt assisted on all three regulation goals in the comeback victory over Canada.

Tkachuk, a Boston University freshman and one of the top prospects eligible for this year’s NHL draft, set up Mittelstadt’s goal with a deft pass in front of the net. Tkachuk scored the tying goal and shootout winner against Canada.

In another preliminary-round game, Milos Roman scored two goals as Slovaki defeated Denmark 5-1 to finish fourth in Group A. Slovakia handed the U.S. its only loss in the preliminary round.

Timothy Liljegren had a goal and an assist in Sweden’s win. Lias Andersson and Glenn Gustafson also scored.

Dimitri Sokolov, Klim Kostin and Alexei Polodyan had goals for Russia. Vladislav Sukhachyov stopped 39 shots.

In the Czechs’ victory, Martin Necas, Daniel Kurovsky and Martin Kaut each had a goal and an assist. Jakub Lauko also scored and Libor Hajek had two assists.

Ken Jager, Dario Rohrbach and Elia Riva had goals for Switzerland (1-3), which finished fourth in Group B. The Swiss have never beaten their quarterfinal opponent Canada in 21 world juniors meetings.

Denmark and Belarus will play a relegation game on Tuesday.

The Buzzer: Spezza bounces back after healthy scratch; another injury for Predators

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Player Of The Night: Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars

On Monday night the Dallas Star made veteran forward Jason Spezza a healthy scratch as he was mired in a lengthy goal-scoring drought. The Stars wanted to see more from him, and they knew he could provide more.

When he stepped back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings he did exactly that by scoring a pair of goals in the Stars’ 4-2 win.

Even though Spezza had been struggling to put points on the board he was still doing an excellent job when it came to driving possession and generating shots, as well as the fact the team was outscoring its opponents when he was on the ice. His ice-time has been cut significantly this season, but he was doing enough to suggest that it was only a matter of time until he got back into the goal column.

He snapped out of it in a big way on Tuesday.

Another big injury for Nashville

The Nashville Predators are already playing without two of their top forwards with Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson sidelined.

They lost another one on Tuesday night in their 1-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights when Ryan Johanson had to leave the game after taking a high hit from William Carrier.

Johanson left the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette had no update on Johansen after the game and said they were given an explanation that it was a clean hit.

The Predators ended up winning the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kevin Fiala and 43 saves from Jusse Saros.

Highlight Of The Night

Not much in the way of highlight reel plays tonight, but here is a big goal from Vince Dunn to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Factoid Of The Night

A big milestone for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he picks up his 20th win of the season.

Scores

New Jersey Devils 4, New York Islanders 1

New York Rangers 5, Philadelphia Flyers 1

Dallas Stars 4, Detroit Red Wings 2

St. Louis Blues 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1

Nashville Predators 1, Vegas Golden Knights 0

San Jose Sharks 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Blackhawks concerned Crawford could miss remainder of season

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Here is some less than encouraging news for the Chicago Blackhawks.

According to a report from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday night, there is some growing concern within the Blackhawks organization that starting goaltender Corey Crawford could miss the remainder of the season due to experiencing vertigo-like symptoms for the second time in his career.

Crawford has been sidelined since before Christmas due to an upper-body injury, but the team has been quiet on specifics other than to say publicly that they expect him to return this season.

Over the past few years Crawford has become one of the NHL’s top goalies and when he has been on the ice this season has been absolutely stellar for the Blackhawks. Given the current state of their defense and the rate that they give up shots he has become one of the team’s most important players and the one that seems to drive their success more than any other.

[Related: Corey Crawford has become the Blackhawks’ most important player]

In his absence the team has leaned on Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. Both have played about as well as could have been expected, but they aren’t Crawford and there is a noticeable drop in play at the position when he is not in there.

In 26 games this season Crawford is 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage.

As of Tuesday night the Blackhawks are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting three points back of the Minnesota Wild. They also have the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche sitting between them.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Rick Nash snaps out of slump, powers Rangers to huge win

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The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the teams in the middle of the free-for-all that is the Eastern Conference playoff race that had five teams separated by just three points heading into Tuesday night.

Both teams had been rolling in opposite directions over the past week with the Flyers having won four in a row and five of their past six, while the Rangers were riding a three-game losing skid and had lost four out of five.

Their past two losses coming out of the bye week were especially ugly, losing to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins (two other teams they are competing with) by a combined score of 12-4.

Both the Rangers’ and Flyers’ streaks came to an end in their game on Tuesday with the Rangers picking up a huge 5-1 win.

Rick Nash was the big star for the Rangers on Tuesday with a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the first period to tie the game at one after the Rangers gave up an early goal. It was a big performance for Nash because he had been mired in a brutal slump that had seen him go 12 consecutive games without a goal. He also had just one assist during that stretch. That slump has contributed to a down year offensively that has him on track for one of the least productive seasons of his career.

But he came through in a big way on Tuesday to help give the Rangers two huge points and move them three points ahead of the Flyers. The Flyers still have one game in hand while the two teams will still play three more games the rest of the season.

The Rangers’ win on Tuesday, combined with the Islanders’ 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, moves the Rangers back into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for the time being.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Predators place forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

The Predators made the move Tuesday afternoon.

Arvidsson was helped off the ice Monday during practice, and The Tennessean reports he tested himself during Tuesday morning’s skate.

The forward ranks third on the Predators with 13 goals and fourth with 27 points. The Predators already have Filip Forsberg on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

Gaudreau has played 18 games with the Predators with three assists. He had 14 points in 21 games with the Admirals this season.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey