COLOGNE, Germany – The United States lost its third straight game at the IIHF World Hockey Championship, going down 3-2 to Finland on Wednesday to wind up in the relegation round.
The Olympic silver medallists will have to finish in the top two of four teams in the relegation round to avoid demotion. The last time the U.S. team lost all three games at the worlds was 2003, when the Americans avoided relegation.
“It’s very disappointing. Nobody wants to get into the relegation round. This group of guys has a lot of pride and we just have to make the best of it,” coach Scott Gordon said. “There’s a fine line between winning and losing. And we just haven’t been able to get on the positive side of that yet. We’ve been very happy with the attitudes and work ethics of these guys. But we are just an offensively challenged team.”
The U.S., led 3:30 into the game after David Moss’ shot deflected off Finland defender Topi Jaakola and into the net.
American goalie Scott Clemmensen made a fine save against Antti Pihlstrom on a breakaway midway through the second period.
But the Florida Panthers goalie could not stop Leo Komarov’s blast from just inside the blue-line into the upper right corner with four minutes left in the second period.
Clemmensen was beaten again from long range 18 seconds into the third period when Petteri Numerlin found the upper left corner from just inside the blue-line on a power play to put Finland up 2-1.
Finland captain Sami Kapanen made it 3-1 with a breakaway goal with 2:02 left in the game.
“We had to push forward looking for some scoring and that left us a little bit open for their counterattack. It wasn’t easy for us,” Gordon said.
T.J. Oshie scored with 17 seconds remaining.
Finland topped Group D with six points, one more than Germany and Denmark. The U.S. earned two points from overtime losses.
Germany ended Denmark’s impressive run by winning 3-1, with Felix Schutz scoring his second game-winning goal after having hit the go-ahead goal in overtime against the Americans in the tournament opener.
In Group B, Latvia beat Italy 5-2 and Olympic champion Canada lost its first match of the tournament with Switzerland’s Martin Pluss scoring once and setting up two goals in a 4-1 victory.
It was Switzerland’s first victory over Canada in 76 years at the worlds.