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IIHF World Championships: USA quarterfinal spot in doubt after loss

German players celebrate their victory over the USA

German players celebrate their victory over the USA during a IIHF World Championships 2016 preliminary match at the Yubileiny Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, on May 15, 2016. Credit: EPA / Anatoly Maltsev

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Germany beat the United States 3-2 on a last-minute goal by Korbinian Holzer at the world ice hockey championship on Sunday, putting American qualification for the quarterfinals in doubt.

However, Finland’s 5-0 rout of Slovakia later in the day relaxed the pressure on the U.S., which will now qualify if it does not lose in regulation to Slovakia on Tuesday, and France does not beat Canada on Monday.

The third defeat in six games leaves the U.S. fourth in Group B, one place behind Germany with one game remaining against fifth-placed Slovakia. The top four advance to the quarterfinals.

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Holzer hasn’t scored for the last two seasons in the NHL, but he made no mistake with a perfectly positioned shot from the blue line to beat U.S. goaltender Mike Condon.

It was a bitter ending for a U.S. team which had dominated puck possession, recording 33 shots against 14 for the Germans.

Germany took the lead on Patrick Hager’s power-play goal in the first before Jake McCabe tied the game for the U.S., but Germany responded almost immediately with a goal for Christian Ehrhoff.

Auston Matthews’ power-play goal early in the second made it 2-2, before Holzer won the game for Germany with half a minute remaining in the third.

Finland, which is top of Group B, outshot Slovakia 35-14 but could not score until the latter half of the second period. Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov finished with a goal and two assists, while goaltender Juuse Saros earned his second shutout of the tournament.

In Moscow, Denmark beat the previously unbeaten Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout. The Czechs remain top of Group A and are sure of a spot in the quarterfinals, but a win in regulation would have guaranteed a first-place finish and top seeding for the quarterfinals.

Tomas Plekanec scored the opening goal for the Czechs in the second, but Morten Madsen scored for Denmark early in the third on a power play caused by an unnecessary too many men penalty for the Czech Republic.

Denmark held on through overtime for the shootout despite being outshot 41-21 over the whole game. Michal Repik’s missed second shot for the Czechs meant Nicklas Jensen could secure victory for Denmark on the next shot.

The Czech loss means that Group A leaders Canada and Finland are now the only unbeaten teams in the world championship.

Sweden overtook Russia for second place in Group A with a 3-2 win over Switzerland, with Washington Capitals wing Andre Burakovsky winning the shootout for the Swedes.

Defeat leaves Switzerland fifth, needing a win over Russia on Tuesday to take the final quarterfinal place from Denmark.

New York Sports