Flying high off a 10-1 rout of the Swiss, the USA looked to make quick work of the Danes. As always, however, Denmark made things interesting, sticking with the much stronger American squad through 45 minutes of hockey.
Ryan Donato got a shot on Mathias Seldrup seven seconds into the first, but the Danish goalie was up to the task, and no early lead was surrendered. After Sweden ran roughshod over Denmark earlier, allowing only nine shots on goal all game, shots in this game were dead even in the early going.
Danish forward Emil Christensen and his line looked positively dangerous, and the Danes had more shots in the first five minutes than they had in the first 20 against Sweden. The USA was, surprisingly, completely asleep, their play lackadaisical at best through the first. They allowed the Danes to swarm their puck carriers, and force turnovers left, right, and centre. The turnovers would prove problematic, as the hard-working Denmark squad gained the zone, jumping on a turnover by Louis Belpedio, and Mathias Lassen got off a shot that went in below Brandon Halverson's glove for the first goal of the game.
USA's Matthew Tkachuk had several good chances early, as did Auston Matthews, who was finally able to capitalize and tie it 1-1 on a pinball scramble in front of the net with three minutes left in the period.
Team USA finally started playing like the powerhouse they actually are toward the end of the first, and. although the period ended tied 1-1, the shots were 12-6 for the States.
At 1:43 in the second, the USA took the first penalty of the game for too many men, but the Danes, missing Mathias From, were unable to get so much as a shot. Sonny Milano, streaked into the play out of the penalty box, and squeaked a shot in that went off the back of Seldrup's pads and into the net.
As the game progressed, Matthews, Tkachuk, and Colin White asserted themselves on the game, and looked dangerous on every shift. The United States had 13 of the last 14 shots on net by the eight minute mark of the middle frame. Though the USA dominated the flow of play, they allowed the Danes to hang around for most of the second period, with Denmark's customary tenacity keeping them within striking distance.
After a prolonged shift in the Danes' end, Niklas Andersen took a tripping penalty, but Seldrup would end the period with a spectacular save to escape the second only down 2-1. Though the shots were a lopsided 28-13 for the USA, the Danes had a more successful first two periods then they had had in the game against Sweden.
Nikolaj Krag had a monster chance in the third on a short-handed chance after a pass from Alexander True, and a minute later, US goaltender Brandon Halverson was forced to make a big save as Søren Nielsen got in on a one-on-one chance. The Danes came away from a potentially deadly penalty kill with the two best scoring chances.
Moments later, it appeared that White had given USA a two-goal lead, but he was both in the crease before the goal, and had the puck go in off his skate, so the goal was disallowed. Tkachuck scored eleven seconds later off a blast from Matthews, and though that goal was also reviewed, it would survive as the 3-1 goal.
Nielsen then took a costly penalty in the offensive zone, and Anders Bjork tipped the puck in over Seldrup's pad to make it 4-1.
Though outgunned and outclassed again (shots were ultimately 44-17), Denmark fought on, getting some really good chances in the final three minutes of the game. That they were able to stick with the much stronger American team through most of the game might be something of a victory in-and-of itself.
Players of the game went to Lasse Knudsen of Denmark and Brandon Carlo for the States.
The USA will face the loser of the Czech Republic-Finland game, and Denmark will play Russia in a Quarter-Final matchup on Saturday.
- After scoring eight of 10 goals on the power play last year, the Danes have been unable to capitalize once this tournament, often being held shotless on the man advantage.
- There were some definite moments where Auston Matthews' higher level of skill was clearly apparent, and he has collected at least one goal in every game except the shutout loss to Sweden.
- Emil Christensen and Alexander True looked good, as did Søren Nielsen, and, despite missing Mathias From, the Danes put up quite a performance.
- Overall, it was as strong a showing as Denmark is capable of, and the USA allowed them to hang around far longer than one would have expected.
- The line of Matthews, White and Tkachuk was incredible after the sleepy US start, getting two of the goals, and simply dominating every time they were on the ice.