2016 World Championship: Four powerplay goals lift Denmark into third place

With their 4-1 victory over Kazakhstan, Denmark has done everything in their power to secure a quarterfinal berth. Now their hopes rest on a Czech victory against Switzerland.

The Danes have hit their stride - and also taken full advantage of games against weaker opponents. The exception, of course, being their win yesterday against the Czech Republic.

Markus Lauridsen took the game's first penalty for playing with a broken stick, which surprisingly would be Denmark's only penalty of the game 3:50 into the first period. Kazakhstan kept the puck in the offensive zone, but only had a few chances that weren't around the perimeter.

Ilya Lobanov was sent off with a double minor for high sticking Nikolaj Ehlers at 6:20, and the Danish power play went to work. Nicklas Jensen, Morton Green, and Frederik Storm had a solid shift, But it would be Lars Eller, Jannik Hansen and Morten Poulsen (on for Ehlers) that had the most chances. On the second half of the double minor, Eller dished back to Markus Lauridsen off a scrambled face off, and Lauridsen launched an absolute howitzer into the back of the net.

Denmark never looked back.

Kazakhstan was not without their chances, however. Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev rang a puck off the crossbar, and they put on some pressure, but it was negated when Dustin Boyd dumped Mathias Bau in the offensive zone.

The first wave of the powerplay saw Eller with Jannik Hansen, Frederik Storm, Ehlers and Oliver Lauridsen, and Hansen scored his first of the tournament as the puck dribbled through Pavel Poluektov's five hole.

Mere seconds later, Brandon Bochenski tripped up Mads Christensen. Vladimir Markelov had a shorthanded scoring chance, but it would be Nicklas Jensen who capitalized on the Danes' fourth power play, firing a laser of a shot that went in between Poluektov's glove and pad.

The second period saw Dmitri Malgin in for Poluektov, and Kazakhstan had some chances, as Dahm had trouble with a puck that caromed off the backboard. Eller had a huge chance that rang off the crossbar that was later reviewed, but definitely did not go in. Then the former Montreal Canadien Nigel Dawes got in all by himself on a bad line change by Denmark, and rocketed first the puck, and then himself, into the net. 3-1 Denmark.

Following the goal, Kazakhstan gave Denmark some trouble, doing a really good job intercepting passes, and turning the puck back into the Denmark zone.

However, Alexander Lipin took an interference call Patrick Bjorkstrand with just over ten minutes left. Ehlers displayed his dazzling shot again, ripping the puck into the top corner.

Ehlers' powerplay goal, Denmark's fourth of the game, would place his team second in the tournament for power play scoring. Nicklas Jensen had two quality chances immediately following, nearly banking both in off Malgin.

Kazakhstan had some big chances in the final minutes of the period, but it would be Denmark who would carry the final action, as Ehlers charged into the zone, and Artemi Lakiza took a holding penalty trying to slow him down. Shots were 26-15 for Denmark after two.

Denmark started the third on the man advantage, and though they had their opportunities, the biggest chances came shortly after the powerplay, as Eller had a pair of good shots on several strong shifts.

Although the third period was by no means boring, and shots were 10-4 for Denmark, not a whole lot happened.

Kazakhstan got themselves in a bit of trouble with repeated icings, during which Denmark was able to keep the pressure on. Nevertheless, it would be Kazakhstan who nearly scored. Daniar Kairov thought he had, but the puck was under Dahm's pads, and very quickly thereafter, Dawes had a good shot which Dahm also turned aside.

The Eller line had a chance or three every time they were on ice, and Oliver Lauridsen made a good play to tie up a Kazakh rush. Denmark took the opportunity to play their depth guys quite a bit more with the lead than they had in previous games, Starkov, Bjorkstrand, Bau, and Kristensen all seeing close to ten or more minutes. This allowed them to play Nicklas Jensen and the Eller line closer to nineteen minutes or less, as opposed to the upwards of twenty that they had played in previous games.

While the Eller line has been noticeable every time it was on the ice, Ehlers with four goals and an assist, and Eller with five assists, it has been Nicklas Jensen who has been the standout thus far, with five goals and two assists, 29 shots on goal, and two game winners.

It was Dahm's least busy game, as shots ended 26-19 in favour of Denmark, and moved them into third place in their final round robin game of the tournament. Now they must wait on the outcome of the Switzerland/Czech Republic game.

Denmark needs the Czech Republic to win in any fashion, or lose in overtime in order to clinch their spot in the quarterfinals for the second time in history.

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