Canada living the life of O'Reilly at ice hockey worlds

Alexander Fedorets
Canada's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shoots against Belarus' goalie Dmitri Milchakov during a preliminary round game of the IIHF International Ice Hockey World Championship in Helsinki. Canada won 5-1

Olympic champions Canada's impressive form at the world championships continued here on Tuesday as they rounded off their preliminary group campaign with their sixth win out of seven a 5-1 thrashing of Belarus.

A double by Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly inspired them to victory and further boosted their confidence as they try to win their first world title since Moscow in 2007.

Defeat did no favours to Belarus' hopes of gaining the right to host one of the Olympic qualifying tournaments for the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Canada grabbed the lead 2:16 into the match through O'Reilly, while Belarus winger Sergei Kostitsyn, who is playing with the NHL side Nashville Predators, levelled with 5:35 to go in the first period.

That was as tight as it got as Canada scored three more goals in the second period to put the game beyond the reach of their opponents.

"We wanted to play well today getting ourselves ready for the quarter-finals. We knew it would be a really hard-fought and physical game and that's what it was," Canada coach Brent Sutter said.

"We played really well in the second period and decided the game with a couple of powerplay goals."

Meanwhile, co-hosts Sweden also clinched their sixth win here beating Latvia 4-0 at the Stockholm Globe arena.

In the middle match in Helsinki 2002 world champions Slovakia beat France 5-4 to deny their opponents the last remaining place in the quarter-finals.

Forward Branko Radivojevic, who was named Slovakia's Player of the Match, scored two goals and provided an assist leading his side into the last eight and dashed French hopes of clinching their first play-off spot since 1995.

In the late Helsinki encounter the United States, who are seeking their first world crown since 1960 here, battled back from a goal down to overcome Switzerland 5-2 to take second place in the group.

In the early Stockholm match Norway beat Denmark 6-2 to do their bit in finishing third and avoid a meeting with Russia in the quarter-finals.

But they were to be left disappointed as the Czech Republic, who are seeking their first world title since 2010, thrashed Germany 8-1 to regain third position and set up a quarter-final with Sweden.

"Before the match we were speculating on who we would prefer to take on, Sweden or Russia, but I don't think it really mattered," rear guard and one of their scorers Lukas Krajicek said.

"Both teams beat us in the preliminary round. The match against Sweden is going to be hard, but we will do all we can to win the game."

In Thursday's quarter-finals in Stockholm Russia will play Norway, while Sweden will face the Czechs. In Helsinki Canada will meet the Slovaks, while Finland will clash with the United States.