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Men's Olympic Hockey Recap: Qualification Round Matches Set

Four teams have advanced to the quarterfinal directly while the rest of the field will play in the qualification round on Tuesday after a wild final day of round-robin action.
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Canada Shuts Out China

Canada has closed out the round robin portion of the men's Olympic hockey tournament with a 5-0 win over China.

Canada finished second in Group A, putting them fifth in the round-robin rankings. That means Canada will have to play in the qualification round on Tuesday, playing China again thanks to its 12th-place finish.

The first period was close in shots, with Canada only taking an 18-10 count into the first intermission. The score, however, told a different story. Ben Street opened the scoring at 2:09 after Kent Johnson's individual effort was stopped by Canadian-born Paris O'Brien before Street poked in the loose disk for the opening goal.

Four minutes later, Adam Tambellini blew into the Chinese zone all alone and fooled O'Brien before Eric O'Dell scored four minutes later to make it 3-0.

China proceeded to play one of its best periods of the tournament in the second, limiting Canada to just one goal and a one-shot advantage at 12-11. Canada's goal came at 38:03 when Kent Johnson went five-hole on Paris O'Brien, putting Canada up by four heading into the final period of play.

China lacked the same energy in the third and it resulted in Canada taking further advantage. At 6:23, Owen Power's blast from the point was tipped in by Corban Knight on the power play, beating O'Brien who had moved out of the way to react to the original placement of the shot.

O'Brien kept everything else sent his way out of the Chinese net and Matt Tomkins made 26 saves in his Olympic debut for the shutout.

USA Wins Group A With Win Over Germany

The United States has finished on top of Group and a bye to the quarterfinal thanks to a 3-2 win over Germany.

The win gave USA a perfect 3-0 record in the round robin thanks to wins over China, Canada and the Germans. They'll skip the qualification round and automatically earn a berth in the quarterfinal round, giving them a bit of rest until the round of eight begins on Wednesday.

The game didn't start in USA's favor, though. While on the man advantage, Patrick Hager scored on the power-play after directing Mathias Plachta's feed past Drew Commesso at the 2:00 mark of the contest.

But from there, the Americans took over. Steven Kampfer's power-play goal at 4:26 soared past traffic and over Danny aus den Birken's blocker to tie things up. Just over a full 20 minutes of game action later, the Americans scored an important second goal to take the lead.

A rare piece of history took place in the third. Nathan Smith became the first Florida-born player to score for USA in Olympic competition, beating aus den Birken five-hole after a bad giveaway by the Germans in front of the crease. Tom Kuhnhackl made the end of the game a bit more interesting with a late goal, but an empty-net push wouldn't result in anything further and USA would hold for the 3-2 win.

Finland Pulls Off Comeback Victory

After erasing a 3-0 deficit in the third period, Finland managed to beat Sweden 4-3 in a wild overtime contest.

With the extra point, Finland has won Group C and will get an automatic berth into the quarterfinal later next week.

It was an uncharacteristic first 40 minutes for the Finns, who have typically been known for their disciplined game and taking advantage of other teams' inability to stay out of the box. But with six penalties in the first 40 minutes alone, Finland struggled to consistently play to their strengths.

It all started at 24:05 when Lucas Wallmark scored his fourth goal of the tournament with an in-close wrister that soared over goaltender Jussi Olkinuora.

Less than a minute later, the Finns were dealt a big blow. Markus Granlund was ejected for an illegal hit to the head of Philip Holm, a hit that knocked the Swedish defender out of the game. On the ensuing five-minute power play, Lukas Bengtsson had his point shot go through and in for the 2-0 goal. Anton Lander added a third Swedish goal at 11:36 to seemingly put the game out of reach.

But of course, that wouldn't end up being the case.

Finland's third-period charge started with two power-play goals of their own to make things spicy. Teemu Hartikainen scored at 5:34 after quickly one-timing a feed from Sami Manninen to end Magnus Hellberg's shutout. Then, 10 minutes later, Iiro Pakarinen knocked in a bouncing puck off of Hartikainen's shot to cut the lead to one late in the game.

Then, for the first even-strength goal of the contest, Pakarinen rushed in on a scramble and poked the loose puck under the left pad of Hellberg at 57:11 to tie the game and force overtime. And that's when Harri Pesonen scored to complete the comeback, turning the game on its head after a one-sided first two periods in favor of Sweden.

Slovakia Too Strong for Latvia

Slovakia has finished group play with its first win of the tournament, beating Latvia 5-2.

Slovakia finished third in Group C with just one victory and will play in the qualification round. Latvia finished as the bottom seed in Group C without a win after three tight games against Slovakia, Finland and Sweden in the round robin.

Slovakia finished the game with a shot advantage of 33-20.

The scoring started 11 minutes in from an unlikely source. Former Toronto Maple Leafs depth defenseman Martin Marincin scored his first Olympic goal after his harmless-looking shot beat Janis Kalnins low glove for the icebreaker in a period that saw the Slovaks control the disk.

Latvia answered back shortly after. Ronalds Kenins' shot beat a screened Patrik Rybar to knot the game at the 15-minute mark to make it a one-goal affair, giving Latvia a chance after a slow start.

But the excitement wouldn't last for too long thanks to two goals in the second for Slovakia to make it 3-1. First, Peter Cehlarik, a former Boston Bruins forward, scored at 6:17 after getting the puck on the slot and fooling Kalnins with a nifty backhander. Then. at 11:16, projected 2022 first-round prospect Juraj Slafkovsky used time and space to send a wrist shot in the back of the net to give Slovakia its first two-goal lead of the tournament.

Latvia was outshot 26-10 over the first two periods, so they needed to do something to shake things up early in the third. That came at 42:07 when Miks Indrasis tipped in Oskars Cibulskis' point shot to the left of Rybar and brought his team within a goal.

Unfortunately for the Latvians, the goal wasn't enough to spark a full comeback effort. Peter Zuzin, playing in his first major international event for the Slovaks, scored after Milos Kelemen drew both Latvian defenders towards him before setting Zuzin up all alone in front for the 5-2 goal. Tomas Jurco scored an empty-netter with 0.5 seconds remaining to seal the deal.

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Three Stars

1. Iiro Pakarinen, FIN: Pakarinen led the charge that saw Finland erase what looked like an impossible deficit and turn it into a win.

2. Kent Johnson, CAN: Johnson finished with a goal and an assist as the third line keeps buzzing for the Canadians.

3. Paris O'Brien, CHN: He allowed five goals, but props for holding on against one of the strongest teams in the tournament in your Olympic debut.

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Qualification Round Schedule - Feb. 15
Slovakia vs. Germany - 11:10 PM ET (Feb. 14)
Denmark vs. Latvia - 11:10 PM ET (Feb. 14)
Czech Republic vs. Switzerland - 3:40 AM ET
Canada vs. China - 8:10 AM ET

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Quarterfinal Matchups
USA
– Winner SVK/GER
Finland – Winner CZE/SUI
Russia – Winner DEN/LAT
Sweden – Winner CAN/CHN

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