Canada’s toughest battle to date came down to the wire, but they held on to defeat rival USA 2-1. The win keeps Canada’s record perfect, moving to 3-0 and sitting atop Group Business standings. Meanwhile, the US drops to 1-2, and must beat Slovakia in order to advance to the medal round, otherwise they will finish 7th or worse for the second straight year.
Canada got goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Strome in the first period and Malcolm Subban made sure it held up, especially with Canada short-handed in the last couple of minutes and Goalie John Gibson pulled for an extra attacker. It was by far Subban’s best performance since Team Canada’s selection camp began, both statistically and esthetically. He showed patience and cool confidence, and avoided allowing the “bad goal” that had tainted so many of his outings lately.
Slovakia avoided a monumental upset at the hands of Germany, who took the Slovaks to overtime before falling. Slovakia controls their own destiny and with a win over the US on Monday could earn a quarterfinal spot and at least a top 6 placing. Germany gets a valuable point in their goal of avoiding relegation, as their game against Latvia in the relegation round will likely determine who gets to return next year.
Finland also needed a two goal comeback and a shootout win to avoid being eliminated from medal contention with a game still to play. They will still need to defeat archrival Sweden on Monday to assure themselves a playoff spot, but depending what happens earlier between Switzerland and the Czech Republic their road could be slightly easier.
The Czech Republic remained in the driver’s seat for the #2 seed and contention for the bye to the semifinals with a 4-2 win over Latvia. The Latvians loss and Germany’s surprising point against Slovakia put Latvia’s backs against the wall in avoiding relegation.
Going into the final day of round robin action, only three of six playoff teams are assured – Sweden, Canada and Russia. Five teams still have a shot at the remaining three spots, and no position is assured. The winner of Canada-Russia will take top spot in Group B, while Sweden will likely get the top spot, but need at least a point against Finland or an overtime game between the Czech Republic and Switzerland to clinch the bye.
Should be a great day of action with all 4 games being meaningful.