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U.S. facing Russian test at WJC after surviving upset-filled quarters

Down went Sweden.

Down went Canada.

The Czechs put up a late fight, but couldn’t knock off the U.S. during Wednesday’s quarterfinal at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. The victory by the Americans allowed them to move on to face a tough semifinal matchup with Russia on Friday (4 p.m. ET; NHL Network, TSN).

It will be a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal that saw the U.S. come out on top 4-2 before falling to the Swedes in the semfinals and settling for a bronze medal. Two years ago the countries met in the semifinals with the Americans getting a 4-3 win after a shootout before moving on and topping Canada in the gold medal game.

Two weeks ago the teams got a good look at one another in a pre-tournament tune up with the U.S. winning. That result isn’t on the minds of the Russians, however.

“We played them in an exhibition game, right? We know there’s a couple good guys on this team, but it’s the whole team,” Russian defenseman Dmitri Samorukov told IIHF.com. “Doesn’t matter (about the past), different team. Different year, right? We’ll just play our best game. We’re trying to play better and better every game so I think what we should do right now is forget about this (quarter-final) game.”

The Russians come into this semifinal undefeated with the best scoring efficiency (15.54 percent), best power play (31.3 percent), and second-best penalty killing unit (89.5 percent), while averaging 4.6 goals per game. They failed to medal a year ago and last won gold in 2011.

This is the fourth straight year that the U.S. has reached the semifinals and they’ve done so without having Jack Hughes, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, for three games. They haven’t relied on one player to carry the offensive load.

“Confidence is really high and the guys trust each other a lot right now,” said U.S. forward Josh Norris, who has two goals and five points in five games. “I think timing is pretty big in this tournament, to be playing good at the right times.”

The U.S. rebounded from a failed comeback attempt vs. Sweden to down Finland 4-1 and close out the preliminary round in second place in Group B. The quarterfinal win against the Czech Republic kept their gold medal hopes alive while two of the tournament favorites fell.

The Americans have had 10 different players record their 21 goals, with Ryan Poehling (Montreal Canadiens, 2017 first round) leading the way with five. Goaltender Cayden Primeau (Canadiens, 2017 seventh round) has stopped 45 of the last 47 shots he’s faced and posted a .933 save percentage in three starts.

“When you can have different people contribute in different ways that’s when you start to get a little momentum as a group, said U.S. head coach Mike Hastings. “I think this group’s generated that momentum because they’re playing pretty selfless hockey. When you play the right way, the game has a tendency to reward you back… It’s really enjoyable to see them playing for each other the way they’ve been.”

Finland takes on Switzerland (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN) in the other semifinal. The winners will meet Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET (NHLN, TSN) for gold at Rogers Arena.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Playoff Buzzer: Wild Card teams are 4-for-4

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  • The Washington Capitals blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads to drop Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Capitals player and frequent Game 7 star Justin Williams played a big role in Carolina’s 2OT winning goal.
  • With Carolina’s victory, all four Wild Card teams have advanced to Round 2.

Hurricanes 4, Capitals 3 [2OT] (CAR wins 4-3)
The Capitals got off to a terrific start. Andre Burakovsky and Tom Wilson scored in the first 6:23 minutes of the contest, but rather than fall apart, the Hurricanes dug in. It wasn’t until 2:56 of the third period when the Hurricanes caught up thanks to a Jordan Staal goal. Washington battled hard for the rest of the third period, but once overtime started the game was all Carolina until finally they broke through when Brock McGinn tipped in a Jason Williams shot. With that, the defending Stanley Cup champions are done and a franchise that last made the playoffs in 2009 is going to Round 2.

Three Stars

1. Brock McGinn, Carolina Hurricanes.
He got the series-winning goal and registered an assist on Teuvo Teravainen‘s marker. This was the 25-year-old’s first playoff series and prior to it he had 36 goals in 240 career regular season games. Of those 36 goals, only two were game-winners.

2. Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes.

Assisted on three of the Hurricanes’ four goals. He also led both teams with 38:27 minutes of ice time in the 2OT contest. He finished the series with nine assists in seven games.

3. Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals.

Got the scoring started just 2:13 minutes into the contest off a superb steal. It was his first goal of the series.

One goal Dougie Hamilton will be happy is forgotten

It didn’t end up defining the game, but Alex Ovechkin outplayed Hamilton on this goal. If Washington won this game, this goal might have been a big part of the story.

Factoids of the night

Thursday’s Games

Game 1: Blue Jackets at Bruins, 7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Game 1: Stars at Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

No More Champs: Hurricanes oust Capitals in 2OT

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Not even the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals were immune in one of the craziest opening rounds ever seen. Brock McGinn tipped a shot by Justin Williams in double overtime in a series-clinching 4-3 victory for the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7.

Early on, it didn’t look like this would be a dramatic contest. Andre Burakovsky stripped the puck away in the Hurricanes’ zone and then beat goalie Petr Mrazek to put Washington on the board just 2:13 minutes into the game. Just four minutes later, Alex Ovechkin outplayed Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton before feeding the puck to Tom Wilson, who made the game 2-0.

Carolina hung in there though. Sebastian Aho scored a shorthanded goal at 9:51 of the second period to cut the lead in half. Evgeny Kuznetsov regained the two-goal lead at 13:22 of the second period, but Teuvo Teravainen answered right back at 16:37.

Early in the third period, Jordan Staal got a clean shot on Braden Holtby that he managed to get by him. It’s one that Holtby arguably should have gotten, but he didn’t have help on that play either and the end result was the game was tied.

From there, Carolina was a dominant force in overtime and it looked more and more like it was just a matter of time before the Hurricanes beat Holtby one more time. It took a while, but it happened.

Just like that, all four wild-card teams have advanced. Washington is out. Pittsburgh, which won the Cup in 2016 and 2017, is out. Vegas, which got to the Stanley Cup Finals last year, is out. Tampa Bay, which tied an NHL record with 62 wins in the regular season, is out.

This year has reinforced the notion that anything can happen in the playoffs. Carolina will face the New York Islanders in Round 2 and while the Hurricanes might be the underdogs, that hasn’t been a bad spot to be in.

MORE: Round 2 schedule, TV info

Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2019: Round 2 schedule, TV info

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We’re down to eight.

With the last Game 7 out of the way in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we can now look ahead to all that Round 2 will bring.

The battle for the 2019 Stanley Cup continues as eight teams vie to become this year’s champion, and there won’t be a repeat after the Washington Capitals got bounced in Game 7 on Wednesday. All four wildcard teams are in. All four divisional winners are out. It’s been a wild ride and there are still three rounds to go.

Here is the full Round 2 schedule with the all-important TV information: 

MORE: 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Schedule, Bracket, Streams and More

For the third consecutive postseason, NBC Sports’ coverage of Stanley Cup Playoff first-round games on NBCUniversal cable networks (NBCSN, USA Network and CNBC), as well as NHL Network, will air side-by-side and will be available for streaming on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app in local markets alongside regional sports network game telecasts. (Local blackouts apply in Las Vegas and Pittsburgh in the first round).


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Capitals, Hurricanes meet in Game 7

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Game 7: Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals, 7:30 p.m. ET (Series tied 3-3)
NBCSN
Call: Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, Pierre McGuire
Series preview

Stream here

Tonight’s pre-game coverage on NBCSN begins at 6:30 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Kathryn Tappen alongside analysts Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones.

NBC Sports begins its exclusive coverage of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs tomorrow with a Game 1 doubleheader on NBCSN. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins, followed by the Dallas Stars-St. Louis Blues series at 9:30 p.m. ET. Thursday’s doubleheader pre-game coverage begins on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET with NHL Live.