USA's Matthew Tkachuk and Denmark's Nikolaj Krag (Roni Rekomaa/AFP/Getty Images)
Team USA clinched second spot in Group A with a 4-1 victory over Denmark. Shockingly, Denmark took an early 1-0 lead, but the Americans overpowered the Danes by game’s end and got multi-point games out of Auston Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk, Colin White and Sonny Milano.
After a dominating performance against the Swiss on Wednesday, it was believed Team USA would come into Thursday’s game against the Denmark and put up another double-digit goal total en route to an easy second place finish in Group A. That wasn’t the case.
An early turnover by American blueliner Louis Belpedio ended up right on the tape of Danish defenseman Mathias Lassen when he stepped up into the play. Lassen walked in and fired the puck over the shoulder of USA goaltender Brandon Halverson to give Denmark an early 1-0 lead, but that lead would last less than seven minutes. Before the first period was through, Auston Matthews banged home a loose puck from the side of the net to pull the score even.
In the second, Sonny Milano was able to notch an early goal to give USA a 2-1 lead. Though the Americans would never relinquish the lead, it wasn’t as convincing a victory as one might have expected. USA controlled play for long stretches of play but Danish goaltender Mathias Seldrup stood on his head to keep the game close. By the time the contest ended, Colin White and Anders Bjork had added insurance goals for USA.
The American team should be commended for staying disciplined in a game that could have been stolen from them had they started taking penalties. The only call that went against USA all game was a too many men call early in the second period, but the Danes were unable to capitalize.
Seldrup, who was far and away the best Danish player against Canada, stopped 40 of 44 shots, while Halverson was beaten just once on 17 attempts against him.
Several American players registered multi-point games in the contest, but few had as dominating a performance as the line of Matthews, White and Matthew Tkachuk. The trio totalled six points and Matthews continued to show why he’s likely to be the first selection at the 2016 draft.