U.S. dominates Denmark to open world junior championship

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Casey Mittelstadt got the United States off to a quick start in its title defense at the world junior hockey championship.

Mittelstadt scored twice in the first period, Kieffer Bellows also had two goals and Joseph Woll made 17 saves to earn the shutout as the U.S. opened the tournament with a 9-0 victory over Denmark on Tuesday night.

In other preliminary-round games, the Czech Republic upset Russia 5-4, Sweden beat Belarus 6-1 and Canada held on for a 4-2 win over Finland.

Max Jones, Kailer Yamamoto, Patrick Harper, Andrew Peeke and Dylan Samberg also scored for the U.S., which had three goals in the first nine minutes.

”We came out ready to go,” said Mittelstadt, the most recent first-round draft choice for the Buffalo Sabres. ”We wanted to come out and score some goals and get our team going right away.”

Mittelstadt’s second goal gave the U.S. a 5-0 lead late in the first period.

”Every time Casey steps on the ice, we know everyone is going to be watching him,” Bellows said. ”He does some special stuff with the puck and he’s a really special player.”

U.S. coach Bob Motzko remained undefeated in the world junior championships.

After winning last year’s tournament in Montreal, the U.S. is seeking back-to-back gold medals for the first time. Denmark placed fifth last year, its highest finish in history.

The opening game was the most competitive of the day. Filip Zadina and Filip Chytil scored second-period goals for the Czech Republic in a stunning 5-4 victory over Russia.

Russia has medaled at the past seven world juniors while the Czech Republic has not reached the medal round since 2005. This was the Czech Republic’s second victory in its past 12 meetings with Russia.

Martin Necas, Filip Kral and Ostap Safin also scored for the Czech Republic, and Martin Kaut had three assists. Josef Korenar made 34 saves.

Zadina and Chytil scored to give the Czech Republic a 4-2 lead late in the second period. Filip Kraul scored the Czech Republic’s fifth goal 6:16 into the third period.

Artur Kayumov and Vladislav Syomin scored late in the third period for Russia. Marsel Sholokhov and Alexei Polodyan scored in the first period.

Also Tuesday, Boris Katchouk had a goal and an assist as Canada beat Finland 4-2.

Katchouk’s linemate Taylor Raddysh scored and added an assist for Canada, while Drake Batherson had the eventual winner and Sam Steel scored a goal.

Carter Hart made 29 saves for the win.

Canadian defenseman Cal Foote made a heads-up play late in the third period when he dove behind his goalie, swatting the puck away just as it touched the goal line, bouncing it off the post and out.

A video review at the next stoppage of play upheld the no-goal call on the ice.

”I wasn’t sure I had it. The puck was on its side,” Foote said. ”But looking back at the replay, it was close but I was pretty sure I got it.”

It was the second video review that went Canada’s way in the game. Katchouk’s opening score was also upheld after Finnish head coach Jussi Ahokas challenged it for goalie interference.

Aleksi Heponiemi and Henri Jokiharju replied for Finland, while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 28 of 32 shots.

In another preliminary-round game, Lias Andersson scored twice for Sweden in a 6-1 win over Belarus.

Elias Pettersson and Erik Brannstrom each added a goal and an assist. Glenn Gustafsson and Jens Boqvist scored Sweden’s other two goals. Alexander Nylander, Rasmus Dahlin and Fredrik Karlstrom had two assists apiece.

Yegor Sharangovich scored for Belarus. Andrei Grishenko stopped 31 shots.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.