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Russia v USA: Ice hockey powerhouses in fierce battle for semifinal spot

Russia v USA: Ice hockey powerhouses in fierce battle for semifinal spot
The 2019 IIHF World Championship has reached its climax with playoff stage kicking off this week. Russia v USA is expected to be one of the most thrilling battles among the four quarterfinal ties on Thursday.

Russia who finished first in group B will enter the quarterfinal as the favorites, being the sole team at the tournament which hasn’t suffered a defeat.

READ MORE: ‘We’re s**t and we know we are!’ British hockey team celebrates historic win at world championship

The fourth-place finishers in group A, Team USA have lost to Canada and hosts Slovakia and needed an overtime period to steal victory against Finland.

The star-studded Russian team which includes NHL aces Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Nikita Kucherov dispatched reigning world champions Sweden 7-4 in the last group stage match, scoring six unanswered goals in the second period.

The American squad however, could offer nothing to Canada losing 3-0 to take the last spot and progress to the knockout stage.

During seven games played at the world tournament Russia netted 36 goals and conceded 7, with Nikita Kucherov being the team’s best goal scorer with 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists).

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American players have hammered in 27 goals while letting in 15. Patrick Kane leads the team’s scoring list with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists)

The NHL’s best goal scorer Ovechkin has not yet been as remarkable as he was for the Washington Capitals this season, scoring just two goals at the tournament. However, Russian fans are pinning their hopes on the 2018 Stanley Cup winner, hoping Ovi will play his best games in the playoffs.

In other quarterfinal games Sweden will take on their geographical neighbors Finland, Czech Republic will test Germany and Canada will face off against Switzerland.