Nikita Kucherov

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U.S. tops Germans 3-1 for 5th win in row at world championship

KOSICE, Slovakia (AP) — Dylan Larkin scored midway through the third period to help the United States beat Germany 3-1 Sunday at the world championships.

Alec Martinez had two assists for the U.S., and Cory Schneider stopped 24 shots. Jack Eichel made it 3-1 late in the third.

Frederik Tiffels put Germany in front midway through the first period, and James van Riemsdyk tied it for the Americans less than two minutes later.

The U.S. has won five straight games in Group A since opening with a 4-1 loss to the host Slovaks.

”This is a hard tournament, harder than I think people realize,” U.S. coach Jeff Blashill said. ”We got some real strong performances from guys like (Ryan) Suter, Martinez, Larkin and van Riemsdyk, but I thought Jack Eichel really raised his game and played like he wasn’t going to be denied.”

The U.S. closes the preliminary round Tuesday against rival Canada, and the quarterfinals begin Thursday.

The Americans trail group-leading Finland, which blanked France 3-0 with a goal in each period and Kevin Lankinen’s strong play in net.

Michael Frolik scored to help the Czech Republic beat winless Austria 8-0 in Bratislava in Group B. In the same group, Nikita Kucherov scored twice and Russia beat Switzerland 3-0 to stay undefeated.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

U.S. routs France, Russia shuts out Austria at hockey worlds

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KOSICE, Slovakia (AP) — The United States rebounded from an upset loss to Slovakia in the opening game at the ice hockey world championship by routing France 7-1 on Sunday.

After losing 4-1 to the host, the U.S. was not ready for another upset. Alex DeBrincat scored twice and Frank Vatrano added one in less than two minutes to set the pace early in the opening period for the U.S. to take command in the Group A game in Kosice.

Colin White also had two while Patrick Kane, who captained the Americans to the bronze medal at last year’s worlds in Denmark, scored his first goal in Slovakia and added an assist.

Chris Kreider added one for the U.S. while Anthony Rech had a consolation goal for France.

The U.S. next faces Finland on Monday.

In the Group B game in Bratislava, star-studded Russia recorded its second straight win after blanking Austria 5-0. Evgenii Dadonov led Russia with two goals for the second consecutive game and Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist. Alexander Georgiev made 15 saves for the shutout.

Later on Sunday, Canada faces Britain while Denmark plays Germany in Group A. Two-time defending champion Sweden takes on Italy and Switzerland meets Latvia in Group B.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Slovakia stuns U.S. 4-1 in world hockey championship opener

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KOSICE, Slovakia — Matus Sukel scored early in the first period and Slovakia went on to beat the U.S. 4-1 on home ice Friday night, a stunning result on the opening day of the world hockey championship.

Alex DeBrincat had a goal off assists from Patrick Kane and Jack Eichel to pull the Americans into a tie midway through the period in the Group A game, but they couldn’t score again against Patrik Rybar.

Erik Cernak and Tomas Tatar put the Slovaks up 3-1 in the second period and Michal Kristof gave them a three-goal cushion in the third.

Cory Schneider made 32 saves for the Americans. They will face France on Sunday.

In Bratislava in Group B, the Czech Republic beat Sweden 5-2. Jakub Vrana scored twice for the Czechs against the two-time defending champion Swedes.

Patric Hornqvist and Oskar Lindblom scored in the second period to give Sweden a 2-1 lead. The Czech Republic responded with four straight goals, including one into an empty net after Henrik Lundqvist was pulled to add an extra skater.

Czech goaltender Patrik Bartosak kept the Swedes scoreless in two of three periods in his world championship debut.

Earlier in Group A in Kosice, Kaapo Kakko scored twice, including an empty-net goal with 34 seconds left, to lift Finland to a 3-1 victory over Canada. Arttu Ilomaki had a tiebreaking goal early in the third period and Kevin Lankinen finished with 20 saves for the Finns.

Canada’s Jonathan Marchessault tied the game midway through the first period and Matt Murray stopped 24 shots. The Canadians, who won the world championship in 2016 and 2015, opened the tournament a day after Hockey Canada and the Toronto Maple Leafs agreed to hold John Tavares out because of his oblique injury.

In the Group B opener in Bratislava, The Russians got off to a strong start with Evgeny Dadonov scoring twice and Nikita Kucherov adding one in a 5-2 victory over Norway.

The Wraparound: Bruins need to solve Blue Jackets’ Bobrovsky in a hurry

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down each day’s matchups with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

It must feel like mission impossible right now.

Finding a way past Sergei Bobrovsky in these playoffs has been, in a word, frustrating. Never have we seen a playoff iteration of Bob that’s been so dominant. His normal, leaky self at this time of year has been all patched up. It presented a world of problems for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1 and sealant only hardened as Columbus’ run shifted to Round 2.

The Boston Bruins need to find something in Game 4 against the Blue Jackets on Thursday (6:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Anything.

Bobrovsky has allowed just one goal in the past 1:21:41 of game time, and that goal only passed the goal line by a half an inch. Their previous goal, David Pastrnak‘s lone marker in the series, deflected off his skate. Goals are goals, but Boston’s output has been poor at best and they’ve been relying on the fluke train to hit its stops on time. It hasn’t. The fluke train is often late.

And Bob has been there when the spectacular has been demanded.

2011 – 2018 
• Record: 5-4
• GAA: 3.49
• Sv%: .891
• Games allowing 4+ goals: 10

2019
• Record: 6-1
• GAA: 1.89
• Sv%: .937
• Games allowing 4+ goals: 0

Combine Bob’s play with the Blue Jackets forecheck and you have a combination that’s built to stifle opposing offenses.

“The secondary saves that he’s making are very impressive,” Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said. “But he’s definitely going to crack at some point. I have a lot of faith that we’re going to put pucks past him really soon. We had really good opportunities through all three periods to put pucks behind him and you credit him today. But overall I don’t think it’s going to last.”

If Carlo’s premonition is come to pass, he’s going to need his team’s big three to step up to the plate.

Here are some streaks you don’t want to hear as a Boston fan:

  • Season-long four-game point drought for Brad Marchand
  • Season-long three-game point drought for Patrice Bergeron
  • No goals in eight of the past 10 games for Pastrnak

“Is it sustainable? I don’t know,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I can’t predict the future. I’d like to think they’re going to have to score. Obviously, some of that starts on the power play. We had one that was not very good – the second one, we got taken off it, so that’s not even really a power play. We’re going to have to figure something out as a group.”

Indeed.

Boston is just 1-for-10 on the power play in the series. They were 7-for-16 in Round 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and were third in the NHL, clipping along at 25.9 percent during the regular season.

Columbus’ game plan of shutting down the other team’s best is always the plan in theory, but they’ve done a remarkable job of it in these playoffs. Tampa’s top three scorers in Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point — all 40-goal scorers — were held to just five points across the first-round sweep. Pastrnak’s goal stands as the only point among himself, Marchand and Bergeron thus far.

Whatever’s in the water in Ohio is working then. The Bruins may want to steal a sip from that tap prior to Game 4. Going down 3-1 in a series is pretty much a death sentence.

 [NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

TODAY’S SCHEDULE: 

Game 4: San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche, 10 p.m. ET, Sharks lead 2-1: As long as Logan Couture stays healthy for the San Jose Sharks, it seems they’ll do just fine. Since 2010, Couture’s 43 playoff goals only trail Alex Ovechkin‘s 50. And while Couture hadn’t scored since his heroics in Game 7 against the Vegas Golden Knights, he made a triumphant entrance into Round 2 with a hat trick that made sure the Avs’ rally from a 2-0 deficit would be all for naught. Colorado had won eight straight at home before Couture and Co. sullied that. The Avs would do well converting some of their power-play opportunities. They were 0-for-4 in Game 3, including misfiring on a late-game attempt as they looked for an equalizer. (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN)

TUESDAY’S SCORES:
Hurricanes 5, Islanders 2
Stars 4, Blues 2

PHT’s Round 2 previews
Round 2 schedule, TV info
Questions for the final eight teams
PHT Roundtable
Blue Jackets vs. Bruins
Hurricanes vs. Islanders
Blues vs. Stars
Avalanche vs. Sharks


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

Blue Jackets continue to shut down Bruins’ best, take 2-1 series lead

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We’ve learned a lot about these Columbus Blue Jackets as their foray into the Stanley Cup Playoffs has worn on.

They’ve proven resilient and relentless, with solid goaltending and no-quit attitude that’s served them more than well. And most of those traits have become trends as they navigate their way through Round 2 against the Boston Bruins, a series they now lead 2-1 after a 2-1 win in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday night.

It’s all noticeable in the on-ice product. Columbus grinds teams down and takes advantage of its opportunities. But perhaps it’s what you can’t see over the first two rounds of the playoffs that has been the most eye-opening.

A quick glance at the scoresheet through three games sees some odd exclusions.

Brad Marchand, for instance, is a 100-point player in the regular season that has no points in the series’ three games. Patrice Bergeron, a point-per-game player, has laid the same goose egg. And gifted goal-scorer David Pastrnak has a single goal, one that came off his skate rather than his stick.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

A blueprint to exclude the big stars on Boston’s bench from being posted on the scoreboard has worked incredibly well, just as it did in Round 1.=

The Tampa Bay Lightning had three 40 goals scorers, including a player named Nikita Kucherov who led the NHL in points by a large margin. The Blue Jackets held Kucherov to just two assists in the first-round sweep. Stamkos had a goal and an assist. Brayden Point was held to just one goal.

See?

It’s remarkable how well Columbus has done to shut down some of the NHL’s best players. And then they apply the same force on the rest of the nine forwards on the ice. Boston has been held to eight goals now, and they have to rely on secondary scoring. When that well runs dry (and it did in Game 3) then nothing can be done.

And Columbus just finds a way.

Matt Duchene has five goals now in these playoffs, and has become Mr. Clutch (he scored the overtime winner in Game 2) with his second straight game-winning goal. Boone Jenner‘s first of the playoffs opened the scoring in the first period.

Boston’s lone goal in the game came on a weird play.

Rule 38.4 (xi) had to be called up to count Jake DeBrusk‘s goal to make it 2-1 on what was deemed a continuous play, despite the whistle from the referee blowing.

The NHL’s Situation room ruled that the play was unaffected by the whistle.

“The video review process shall be permitted to assist the Referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals… include situations whereby the Referee stops play or is in the process of stopping the play because he has lost sight of the puck and it is subsequently determined by video review that the puck crosses (or has crossed) the goal line and enters the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result was unaffected by the whistle (i.e., the timing of the whistle was irrelevant to the puck entering the net at the end of a continuous play).”

DeBrusk’s goal was as close as the Bruins would come.

Sergei Bobrovsky put on an incredible performance with 36 saves, including several of the 10-bell variety. Whether he’s playing for an even bigger raise or he’s just put those past playoff demons to rest, he’s coming up in the clutch for Columbus and it’s fun to watch (especially when he’s doing Dominik Hasek things).

Game 4 goes at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday on NBCSN (Stream live).


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