COLOGNE, Germany — The United States defeated Slovakia 6-1 on Sunday, stretching its winning run at the ice hockey world championships to five games ahead of its Group A showdown with Russia.
Johnny Gaudreau finished with two goals to take his tournament tally to six and recorded an assist. Jimmy Howard made 19 saves in his fourth start for the Americans, whose confidence seems to be growing.
Still, U.S. head coach Jeff Blashill saw room for improvement before the next game against Russia on Tuesday.
“One thing we have to clean up is puck management and turning pucks over,” Blashill said.
Skjei had an assist, while Hayes picked up two. Blashill praised both for their performances.
Gaudreau followed suit early in the second period, set up by Hayes before Martin Gernat pulled one back.
Gaudreau grabbed his second of the game to start the third period — Hayes again with the assist — before Lee scored on a power play.
The U.S. moved top of Group A, one point ahead of Russia, which has a game in hand. The Russians first face Latvia on Monday, when the U.S. is not in action.
The Czech Republic dented France’s hopes of making the quarterfinals with a 5-2 victory in Paris.
Co-host France failed to make the most of two 5-on-3 chances and more power-play time, 10:35 compared to just 2:43 for the Czechs.
France remained sixth on seven points in Group B with only one game remaining. The teams it can catch — Norway and Finland, with eight and nine points, respectively — both have two games remaining.
The top four in each group advance to the quarterfinals.
Later Sunday, Denmark was playing Sweden in Group A, while Switzerland faced Finland in Group B.