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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Downs Czechs, Heads to Quarters

GAVLE, Sweden -- The United States, buoyed by a surprise winning streak at the World Hockey Championships, was looking for more victims.

The U.S. team, considered an underdog when the 12-nation tournament started, collected three victories so far, including a 4-2 win against the traditional hockey power, the Czech Republic, on Thursday.

The U.S has never won a medal at the World Hockey Championships since National Hockey League stars made their debut in 1977. Not even with players like Brett Hull, Pat LaFontaine, Brian Leetch, Jeremy Roenick or Mike Richter.

Now a poorly prepared team manned by minor league, college and two European-based players is off to a brilliant start, already qualifying for the quarterfinals from their Pool B.

The Americans, who didn't play a single warm up game and only worked out twice on the large European ice sheet before the tournament, didn't even dream of such a success. "Our goal was to get to the medal-round," said U.S. coach Jeff Sauer. "It's tremendous from our standpoint."The only guys that felt we could win were our 20 players."

Pat Jablonski, the Toronto Maple Leafs' third-string goalie, had another outstanding game for the Americans.

In other action, it was Canada 5, Germany 2; Italy 3, Switzerland 2; and Sweden 5, Austria 0.


Oilers 3, Blues 2, OT. In Edmonton, Alberta, Zdeno Ciger's first goal of the season came with 1:41 left in the overtime as the Oilers defeated the Blues 3-2, vaulting over three teams and into the eighth and final NHL Western Conference playoff berth.

St. Louis appeared to have won the game with 30 seconds left when Denis Chasse scored, but the goal was disallowed because Blues forward Brendan Shanahan was being assessed a high-sticking major.

Ciger was playing his first game in over a year in Edmonton after spending the season helping Slovakia win the B pool World Hockey Championship.

Chicago 5, Dallas 1. In Chicago, the Blackhawks scored at least four goals for the second successive game Thursday night for their first two-game winning streak in more than a month.

Denis Savard, Tony Amonte, Joe Murphy, Gary Suter and Sergei Krivokrasov scored for the Blackhawks, who beat Vancouver 4-3 Tuesday, ending an 0-10-3 stretch, their longest without a victory since 1959.

The Blackhawks scored only 18 goals during their 13-game winless streak and hadn't posted consecutive games with four or more goals since the season's eighth and ninth contests in February.

Kevin Hatcher had Dallas' only goal.

Jets 4, Red Wings 3. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Keith Tkachuk had two goals and Teppo Numminen and Kris King added one each as Winnipeg won the crowd chanting "save our Jets."

The victory before a pumped-up crowd of 14,081 came hours after a private group announced they couldn't put together a business plan to keep the money-losing team here.

Niklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored for the Red Wings.

In other action it was Senators 6, Lightning 1.