Detroit signs Czech d-man Sulak

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The Red Wings have added some depth on defense.

On Wednesday, the club announced it has signed Czech rearguard Libor Sulak to a two-year, entry-level deal. Sulak, 23, is fresh off representing the Czechs at the World Hockey Championship and, prior to that, spent the last two years playing for Znojmo Orli of the Austrian League.

There, he was named the league’s rookie of the year in 2016, and followed that up with a career-high 10 goals and 28 points in 54 games last season.

It’ll be interesting to see if he can push for minutes in Detroit next season. Currently, the club has six d-men under contract — Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul. Xavier Ouellet is also in the mix, but a restricted free agent.

The Red Wings also signed ’16 first-rounder Dennis Cholowski to his ELC last month, and he played one game for their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

Finnished: U.S. crashes out of Worlds with disappointing loss

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Team USA’s promising World Hockey Championship run came to a stunning halt on Thursday.

The Americans, who finished atop Group A on the strength of six straight victories, were dumped in the quarterfinal round courtesy a 2-0 loss to Finland — the same Finnish team that only posted two regulation wins in the preliminary phase, had a negative goal differential and barely edged out France for a playoff berth.

It was a disappointing day for Team USA, to say the least.

Failing to score a single goal might top the list of frustrations. Coming into the quarters, the U.S. was the tournament’s third highest-scoring team, finding the back of the net 31 times. That included 16 goals over the last three, which included an emotional 5-3 victory over the previously-undefeated Russians.

Johnny Gaudreau had 11 points over seven preliminary round games. Dylan Larkin had 10. But they and the rest of the Americans couldn’t solve Finnish netminder Harri Sateri — who, to be fair, wasn’t overly tested but held strong in the third. Sateri finished with 26 saves, 12 of those coming in the final frame.

On the offensive side of things, Finland was paced by goals from Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Kemppainen. Sebastian Aho assisted on Rantanen’s tally, giving him a team-high nine points on the tourney.

With the win, Finland will now take on Russia in the semifinals. The Russians dispatched of the Czech Republic in earlier quarterfinal action.

The U.S., meanwhile, will head home from the Worlds without a medal for the second straight year.

 

Hayes scores twice as U.S. hands Russia first loss at Worlds

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Team USA notched its biggest win of the World Hockey Championship on Tuesday, knocking off previously undefeated Russia 5-3.

Kevin Hayes scored twice, while Anders Lee continued his terrific tourney by netting the game-winner on the power play in the third period. Isles teammate Brock Nelson — who’s also playing very well for the U.S. — had a three-point effort, while Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin registered two points each.

The Russians were led by Nikita Gusev, who scored twice.

As mentioned above, this was the first setback of the tourney for Russia. The team had previously run roughshod through the preliminary round, largely on the strength of its “big three” — forwards Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin and Vadim Shipachyov. The trio had combined for 36 points but went silent on Tuesday. Shipachyov was the only one to find the scoresheet, registering an assist.

The U.S. has to be thrilled with today’s result. It’s a stark turnaround from its opening loss to the Germans, and has put the squad among the favorites for gold. The Americans have reeled off six straight wins and have looked dangerous offensively, scoring 16 goals over their last three games.

The U.S. also locked up top spot in Group A with Tuesday’s victory.

USA scores four unanswered goals to rally past Latvia

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Team USA won its fourth consecutive game at the IIHF World Championships on Saturday with a 5-3 win over Latvia.

It was not an easy win by any stretch of the imagination.

Trailing 3-1 midway through the second period, the United States need to rally with four consecutive goals to pick up the win. The rally started with a Nick Bjugstad goal with just under seven minutes to play in the second period. Just a few minutes later Johnny Gaudreau scored the equalizer. The game would remained tied until late in the third period when Andrew Copp would score the eventual game-winner with just under four minutes to play in regulation.

Dylan Larkin added an empty net goal to put the game away, extending his point streak in the tournament to five games. He is the only team USA player to record a point in every game of the tournament.

You can see all of the highlights from the game in the video above.

After being upset by Germany in the opening game of the tournament, the United States has outscored its next four opponents (Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Latvia) by a 19-8 margin.

Team USA is back in action on Sunday against Slovakia then closes out the first round on Tuesday against Russia.

U.S. posts third straight win at Worlds by shutting out Italy

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It was fair to suggest the Americans would have an easy time with Italy in today’s preliminary round game at the World Hockey Championships.

In the end, it proved to be exactly that.

While the scoreline was hardly as lopsided as Russia’s 10-1 smashing of the Italians on Sunday, the U.S. still cruised to a 3-0 win today — a game in which starting netminder Jimmy Howard was forced to make just nine saves for the shutout.

On offense, Islanders forwards Anders Lee and Brock Nelson combined for all three goals, with Nelson scoring a pair and Lee adding a single. The duo has been dynamic thus far, collectively scoring six goals and eight points over the first four games of the tournament.

Detroit’s Dylan Larkin continued with his run of fine playmaking, notching a pair of assists. He now has a tournament-high seven.

Looking ahead, the U.S. will get a couple of days off before going for a fourth straight win against the Latvians on Saturday. Things won’t get any easier for Italy, as it’ll be up against Sweden on Friday.