RIGA, Latvia — Vladimir Tarasenko, a week after his St. Louis Blues were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, found himself across the globe, scoring a winning goal in a key game at the world championships.
Russia took over the lead in Group A with 13 points Sunday, after Tarasenko scored in a shootout, eliminating Sweden with a 3-2 victory.
Tarasenko, who had two goals but was a minus-8 in St. Louis’ four-game sweep at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, was playing in his first game of the tournament after quarantining.
“There was a lot of pressure there,” Tarasenko said. “It was my first game but an important moment for us to clinch the playoffs today. A lot of credit to the Swedish team, they worked really hard and played really well.
“It was a hard game. We played really well together, but there is a lot of areas we can improve. We have time to talk and get ready.”
Sweden, an international power, is out after the preliminary round for the first time since the current round-robin play was adopted in 2012.
Swedish captain Henrik Tommernes blamed a slow start to the tournament teamwide as a reason for the downfall, saying that the feeling was “empty.”
“We played a really good game,” he said, “but in the end it was really tough loss.”
Anton Slepyshev and Alexander Barabanov scored in a 12-second span with less than eight minutes to play to give Russia a 2-1 lead. Jesper Froden had given the Swedes the lead in the first period. Sweden’s Victor Olofsson scored with 4:43 left in regulation to tie the game.
The Russian heroics took a little bit of the spotlight off of Team USA’s surge. Earlier in the day, Cal Petersen had 33 saves for his second consecutive shutout and the United States won its fifth straight game with a 2-0 victory over Germany on Monday.
“That’s a really good hockey team, full credit to them,” U.S. coach Jack Capuano said of Germany. “Our guys made sacrifices, stuck to the structure and found a way to win. I’m really impressed with how we’ve come together so far and now we’ve got one more game here to finish our group play on a positive before getting ready for the quarterfinal.”
The win was the third in the tournament for Petersen, who plays for the Los Angeles Kings. Germany outshot the U.S. 33-15.
Switzerland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic also advanced from Group A to the quarterfinals, which begin on Wednesday.
Filip Chytil, also of the Rangers, scored the shootout winner as the Czechs beat Denmark 2-1. The Czechs have four straight wins after losing their first two games. The loss eliminated Denmark quarterfinal contention.
In the other Group B game, Stefan Espeland broke a tie early in the third period and Norway posted a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan, preventing the Kazakhs from securing their first berth in the quarterfinals.
Finland and the United States both have 15 points and have advanced to the quarterfinals. Germany, Canada and Latvia have nine points with a game to play in the round.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.