Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon's World Championship run fell short Thursday as Canada lost 3-2 to Finland in the quarterfinals at Chizhovka Arena in Minsk, Belarus.
This marks the fifth straight year that Canada has lost in the quarterfinals. Its last medal at the World Championship was a silver in 2009 following a loss to Russia in the championship final.
Nathan MacKinnon during a 2014 IIHF World Championship game in Minsk, Belarus with Team Canada (Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images).
Canada won gold at the Sochi Olympics last February and was bidding to become the second team to capture in the same year Olympics and World Championship gold (Sweden, 2006).
Canada held a 2-1 lead in the second period Thursday after Kyle Turris (Senators) and Mark Scheifele (Jets) found the net, but Finland quickly turned the game back in its favor early in the third.
Juuso Hietanen scored just 28 seconds into the final stanza to tie the contest at 2-2, and Iiro Pakarinen scored the winner for Finland after receiving a pass from Jori Lehtera in the slot during an odd-man rush and firing a shot far-side with 3:08 left.
"For the most part I thought our team played well," Canada coach Dave Tippett (Coyotes) said. "We controlled long portions of the game. We made a couple of mistakes that cost us the game. Our goal was to get better every day. That was probably the best game we've played here."
Nathan MacKinnon had two assists on Friday to help Team Canada win its fourth consecutive game at the 2014 IIHF World Championship with a 6-1 victory over Italy.
The Canadians have won each of their contests since losing to France in the tournament opener last Friday. They have outscored their opponents by a 20-6 margin in those wins.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first period, Canada scored four times in the middle frame and once more with 3:30 remaining. MacKinnon assisted on Canada's final two scores, Cody Hodgson's tally at 16:15 of the second and Brayden Schenn's goal at 16:30 of the third.
MacKinnon now has four points (one goal and three assists) in his first world championship. He also had six shots and two penalty minutes against Italy.
Canada (4-0-1) sits in second place in Group A and just one point behind undefeated Sweden (5-0-0). The top two teams will face off on Sunday at 7:45 a.m. MT.
SWISS FALL IN SHOOTOUT
In Group B on Friday, Reto Berra did all he could in net but Switzerland lost 3-2 in a shootout to Finland.
Berra made 22 saves and stopped Finland's first four skaters in the shootout before Iiro Pakarinen scored in the fifth round to secure the win for the Finns. No Swiss players scored in the tiebreaker.
Switzerland will play Kazakhstan, last place in Group B, on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. MT.
Avalanche prospects Markus Lauridsen of Denmark and Jonas Holos of Norway did not have tournament games on Friday. Lauridsen and Denmark are seventh in Group A with a 1-3-0 record, while Holos has contributed two points (one goal and one assist) to help Denmark to fourth in Group A with a 2-2-0 mark.
Nathan MacKinnon and Canada opened their 2014 IIHF World Championship on Friday with a 3-2 shootout loss to France at Chizhovka Arena. The win for France marked only the second time in the country's history at the tournament that it had beaten the hockey power, with it last defeating Canada in April 1995 by a 4-1 score.
MacKinnon had the assist on Erik Gudbranson's go-ahead goal that gave the Canadians a 2-1 lead at 10:42 of the third period, but Stephane da Costa's second goal of the night tied the game at 2-2 for the French less than two minutes later.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare won the game for France in the shootout as he scored in third round, the only goal of the tiebreaker. MacKinnon did not participate in the shootout for Canada.
France opened the game's scoring with da Costa's first goal of the game with 2:57 left in the first period, but the French lead was short lived as Canada quickly answered to tie the contest with 16 seconds remaining in the stanza.
Elsewhere on Day 1 of the tournament, Avs goalie Reto Berra's Switzerland team lost 5-0 to Russia in its first game. Berra was the backup goalie for the Swiss and did not play in the game.
Matt Duchene and Team Canada were looking for payback, and they delivered with Olympic gold.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog and his Sweden team had defeated Duchene's squad in the quarterfinals at last year's world championship, ending Canada's tournament early and adding momentum to their eventual gold-medal victory.
So when Canada's and Sweden's Olympic teams were announced Jan. 7 and Duchene and Landeskog were each selected to their respective country's squads, Duchene didn't waste any time bringing up a friendly rivalry with his teammate.
"I went up to [Landeskog], and I said, 'It's time to get some revenge from last year in the world's,'" Duchene said after being selected. "Hopefully get some redemption this year."
Duchene and Canada got the redemption they wanted and defended their Olympic title Feb. 23 in a 3-0 shutout win over Sweden in the gold-medal game and the final event of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
All four Colorado Avalanche players at the 2014 Winter Olympics have made it to the quarterfinals after Russia picked up a shutout victory Tuesday in the qualification playoffs.
Russia defeated Norway 4-0 and will play No. 4 seed Finland on Wednesday at 5:30 a.m. MT (NBCSN, CBC). Semyon Varlamov did not play in the game for Russia as Sergei Bobrovsky received the start instead. Varlamov was coming off a 27-save shutout win on Sunday against Slovakia.
Team Russia has not named a starting goaltender yet for its game against Finland.
Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog and top seed Sweden will open quarterfinal action against Slovenia at 1 a.m. MT on Wednesday (NBCSN, TSN). Slovenia defeated Austria 4-0 on Tuesday for its second win at its first ever Olympic Games.
The winner of the Sweden-Slovenia matchup will play the winner of Russia-Finland in the semifinals on Friday.
Maybe the biggest upset of the tournament so far came Tuesday when Latvia defeated Switzerland 3-1. The up-and-coming Swiss were coming off a silver medal at last year's world championship, but Latvia used two first-period goals to help it capture its first win of the tournament and possibly the biggest victory in its country's history.
If Saturday's United States-Russia game was the marquee matchup of the preliminary round, then Sunday's Canada-Finland meeting to decide the winner of Group B was a close second.
And like Saturday's game, Sunday's winner had to be decided in extra time.
Drew Doughty (Los Angeles) scored his second goal of the game at 2:32 of overtime to lift Canada to a 2-1 victory at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Both Canada and Finland earned automatic bids into Wednesday's quarterfinals since the Canadians won the group and the Finns won the wild card spot after they finished with the fourth most points (seven) in the three-game preliminary round. In the quarterfinals, Canada will play the winner of Switzerland-Latvia while Finland will play the winner of Russia-Norway.
Avalanche forward Matt Duchene played in his second consecutive game, posting 13:12 of ice time for the Canadians.
Duchene played on a line with a pair of Anaheim Ducks forwards in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the same two skaters he played with during his Olympic debut Friday against Austria.
On a night when the Russian offense had trouble finding the back of the net, goaltender Semyon Varlamov stood tall in the crease and saved the game for the host country.
Varlamov didn't allow any pucks to get past him as he made 27 saves through overtime and stopped two more in a shootout Sunday to lead Russia to a 1-0 win over Slovakia at Bolshoy Ice Dome. It was the Colorado Avalanche goalie's second win of the tournament and first Olympic shutout.
Team Russia is known for their dynamic scorers with Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin leading its offensive onslaught, but Slovakia played strong defensively and didn't give the Russians many opportunities until the final 20 minutes.
Russia came to life in the third period as it outshot Slovakia 15-2 and then 5-3 in overtime, but it couldn't get any shots past goalie Jan Laco. The Russians ended the game with a 37-27 shot advantage.
"Of course we're not happy about this game," Russia captain Pavel Datsyuk said afterward in Russian. "We wanted to win it in regular time, not to go into shootouts or cause heart attacks."
After falling to the United States in an eight-round shootout 24 hours earlier, Sunday's tiebreaker was over quickly. Varlamov made two right-pad saves and Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov scored for Russia to end the best-of-three shootout after two frames.
Both of Varlamov's stops in the shootout were spectacular. His first against Michal Handzus was a kick save in which he just got enough of the puck to deflect it wide, while his second was a pad stop in which he stretched out his right leg to deny Tomas Tatar's chance.
Avalanche center Paul Stastny scored twice in a six-goal second period Thursday to help lead the United States to a 7-1 win over Slovakia in its first game of preliminary play at Shayba Arena.
"It’s always special playing against Slovakia," said Stastny, who has family in Slovakia, to the official IIHF website. "I always know family back home is watching, and my parents always watch no matter what. I’ve never beaten these guys, so it was nice to get it on my third try, on the most important stage."
STATS | NHL.com RECAP | PHOTOS
The Americans will now set their sights on Russia, as they face the host country in a highly anticipated matchup on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. MT (NBCSN, CBC). The winner of that game will likely have the inside track of winning Group A and receiving an automatic bye into the quarterfinals.
Team USA opened the game's scoring at 14:27 of the first period on a rocket slap shot by John Carlson (Washington) that sent the puck into the top-left corner. Carlson, who also had an assist in the game, had plenty of time and space to fire a perfect shot after Phil Kessel (Toronto) brought the puck into the Slovakia zone and sent a drop pass to Carlson to create separation. Kessel finished the contest with three points as he later added a goal and another assist.
Paul Stastny had a stellar performance for the United States at the IIHF World Championship last May, and he picked up right where he left off on Thursday as he began his second Olympic Games.
The Colorado Avalanche center scored twice in a six-goal second period and helped lead Team USA to a decisive 7-1 victory over Slovakia in the first game of preliminary play for both squads.
Stastny's last experience on the larger, international ice surface was at the 2013 world championship in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland when he captained the Americans to a bronze medal and led the team in scoring. He finished second at the tournament with 15 points (seven goals and eight assists) and was the only American to be named to the Media All-Star team.
Centering a line with T.J. Oshie and Max Pacioretty against Slovakia, Stastny's two goals came just feet from the front of the net, a spot where he scored many of his tallies at last year's world championship and this season with the Avalanche.
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will also wear a letter on his chest for Team Sweden at the 2014 Olympics.
Upon arriving in Sochi, Russia following the Avalanche's 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday, Landeskog was told that he will join Niklas Kronwall as Sweden's alternate captains for this year's Winter Games.
"It was a bit unexpected but on the other had, I am grateful for the confidence and of course it's a great honor to get the nomination," Landeskog said in Swedish to Expressen.
Landeskog will fill the alternate captain role that was first given to Henrik Sedin before the Vancouver Canucks forward suffered an injury that will keep him out of this year's tournament. Henrik Zetterberg will be the team captain for Sweden at this year's Olympics.