HELSINKI – Paul Stastny had a goal and two assists to lead the United States to a 5-2 win over Switzerland and give the Americans a 4-2-0-1 record in the round robin, good for second place in Group A.
The result sets up a quarter-finals showdown with Finland on Thursday night. The game will be a re-match of a lop-sided 5-0 American win over the hosts a few days ago in the round robin.
Click here for a video with post-game comments.
"We've played well all through the tournament," said Stastny, "and the last couple of games we've played better and better. This quarter-final game is almost more important than anything because after that anybody can win a medal."
Canada will face Slovakia in the other quarter-final in Helsinki and play the early game. Switzerland finishes in sixth place and goes home now after posting a disappointing record of 2-0-0-5 here.
The game had little meaning for the Swiss but plenty for the Americans. Had they lost in any way, they would have finished fourth and faced Canada in the quarter-finals. A win in regulation or overtime would have meant a date with Finland instead. Pick your poison. The Americans beat both countries during the round robin.
The Americans looked tired and listless in the first period and that continued into the first shift of the middle 20 minutes when the Swiss opened the scoring just 21 seconds into the period. The goal came off a spectacular three-way passing play starting with Damien Brunner hitting Kevin Romy with a pass against the flow, and Romy put the puck on the tape of Ivo Rüthemann as he crashed the crease.
Rüthemann knocked the puck in the net and then the goal off its moorings, but video review confirmed the puck crossed the line first.
Just two minutes later the U.S. tied the game on an odd play. Max Pacioretty had the puck behind the net and tried to pass it in front. He fanned on the attempt but the puck went in the air over the goalie and net right into the slot. Bobby Ryan then kicked at the puck and swatted it out of mid-air and in.
"It was a bit of a broken play," Ryan explained. "Pacioretty just threw one out that was a head high, but luckily we play a lot of soccer before the game and I was able to kick it right where I needed. It was a little more luck than anything, but I'll take it."
That opened the game and the rest of the period saw good action both ways. Finally, with 3:08 left in the period, the Americans took the lead. Stastny made a great pass to defenceman Cam Fowler who was driving to the net, and Fowler redirected the puck deftly past Berra.
"I think for a team we got out of the gate a little slow," Howard agreed. "We were a little sluggish, but in the second period we got things going."
Stastny got one of his own on a power play at 5:22 of the third, and Alex Goligoski wired a shot in a couple of minutes later to put the game out of reach.
Morris Trachsler scored on a rebound, but just 16 seconds later, Jeff Petry made it 5-2 to close out the scoring.