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US routs Germany 11-0, sets up matchup with Canada for gold

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) The U.S. relentlessly dominated Germany, scoring soon after the puck dropped and refusing to relent until the final horn sounded.

Hilary Knight scored 1:06 into the game and Kelli Stack added a goal midway through the first period to give the Americans a cushion that they weren’t content with in an 11-0 victory over the Germans on Thursday night in the women’s hockey world championship semifinals.

“We didn’t want to play down to their pace,” said Kendall Coyne, who scored two of her team’s five goals in the second period. “We want to play up to our pace.”

The Americans will face Canada for gold on Friday night. They’re shooting to win a fourth straight world championship final against the rival Canadians, who beat them in the 2014 Olympics.

“There’s no love lost on the ice,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said. “It gets heated.”

Without needing to break a sweat, Nicole Hensley stopped eight shots for the U.S. for a shutout.

The Germans will face Finland in the bronze-medal game Friday, aiming for their first medal in the International Ice Hockey Federation world championship.

“We’re super motivated,” German goaltender Jennifer Harss said. “We’re super excited. We can’t wait.”

The Finns have won 11 bronze in 17 the women’s world championships.

Harss made a pair of spectacular stops that made the crowd gasp in the first period and kept her team within two goals in the opening period. She was replaced after giving up a seventh goal in the second period and was replaced by Ivonne Schroder, who fared only slightly better in the lopsided laugher.

The Americans didn’t let up in the second, scoring five times in the first 6-plus minutes of the period to take a 7-0 lead that left only the final score in doubt, or until the final horn sounded.

Canada and the U.S. have met in every world championship since the event’s inception in 1990, and the Americans have won six of the last seven.

IIHF President Rene Fasel said it might take another 10 or 15 years for the rest of the world to catch up with the Americans and Canadians.

“The gap is still very big,” Fasel acknowledged before the tournament.

Finland coach Pasi Mustonen doesn’t expect anyone to slow down the U.S.

“The Americans on defense are from another planet they’re so good,” Mustonen said. “They’ve been the best team – by far – in the tournament. Canada can score and has a good goalie, too, but defensively it’s not even close. The Americans are much, much better than everyone else.”

The U.S., just after winning an off-ice fight with USA Hockey for better wages, opened the tournament last week with a 2-0 win over the Canadians and followed that up with a 7-0 rout of Russia and a 5-3 victory against Finland.

The Americans were even more dominant against the Germans, who beat Russia to earn a spot in the semifinals.

Coyne scored on a power play early in the breakout period that turned a 2-0 game into a 7-0 rout. Coyne, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Megan Keller added goals in even-strength situations that were so lopsided it looked as if the U.S. had an extra skater on the ice as it maintained the puck easily and found open space to shoot.

Germany had just five shots entering the third, missing a chance to add a shot and goal in the final seconds of the second period when Kerstin Spielberger failed to control the puck in front of a wide-open net.

The Germans had a power play early in the third, but the Americans possessed the puck for much of the 2-minute stretch. Shortly after killing the penalty, Amanda Pelkey scored off a rebound and later in the period. Stack scored again and Haley Skarupa made it a double-digit game in the third.

Refusing to be satisfied, Alex Carpenter scored with 13.3 seconds left to make it 11-0.

“We’ve had a great tournament so far. Obviously, it’s not done,” Duggan said. “If we play the way we can play, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side.”

 

Predators favored against Penguins on betting lines for Game 4

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have an excellent track record as a bounce-back team, but they are giving off some distressing signals against the Nashville Predators going into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Predators are a -155 moneyline favorite against the +135 underdog Penguins with a 5.5-goal total for Monday’s matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Predators are 9-1 in their last 10 home playoff games, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. Nashville is 11-4 in its last 15 home games as a favorite of -140 to -500 on the moneyline.

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven series 2-1. The home team has won each of the clubs’ last six meetings.

The Penguins are 13-2 in playoff games after a loss under coach Mike Sullivan and are also 6-4 in in their last 10 playoff games as an underdog on the road. However, star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were each held without a shot on goal during Game 3, a first in their time playing together.

Pittsburgh has also counted on its power play throughout much of its playoff run, but it is only 1-for-13 with the extra skater so far against Nashville. Crosby has yet to score in the series.

Health-wise, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan might have to shuffle his forward lines if center Nick Bonino (left foot) is unable to play. Bonino is listed as doubtful, although he practiced on Sunday. Pittsburgh also needs to create more opportunities for Phil Kessel. While Jake Guentzel has a series-high four goals, those have come on only six shots on goal (hardly a sustainable shooting percentage).

Nashville, which is 13-6 in the playoffs, has been the better team in even-strength play during the course of the series. The Predators are often able to control the tempo of a game due to the defensive foursome of P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, who all have at least 10 points during the playoffs.

While some puck luck played into the 5-1 score during the Predators’ first win against Pittsburgh on Saturday, other key elements included staying out of the penalty box as well as getting an injection of speed from the creation of a line of Frederick Gaudreau, Harry Zolnierczyk and P.A. Parenteau.

Goalie Pekka Rinne (27 saves on 28 shots) also regained his usual form. If that continues, Nashville should have an excellent chance of taking another win at home and reducing the series to a best-of-three.

The total has gone over in seven of Nashville’s last 10 home games against Eastern Conference teams. The total has gone over in 11 of Nashville’s last 16 home games (playoffs and regular season) when it was a favorite of -150 to -500 on the moneyline.

Predators take 2-1 lead into Game 4 vs. Ducks as clear betting favorites

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As great as their record at home in the playoffs is, the Nashville Predators also consistently take care of business when installed as a big favorite, be it home or away.

The Predators are -140 betting favorites against the +120 underdog Anaheim Ducks with a five-goal total in their Game 4 matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Nashville is 10-0 straight-up in its last 10 home playoff games and the OddsShark NHL Database also reveals that the team is 12-3 in their last 15 games as favorite of -135 to -500 on the moneyline. Eight of the last nine games within that sample have gone under. Nashville is also 5-2 SU in its last seven home games against Anaheim, including a win on Tuesday that gave it a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final.

Anaheim, who is 13-7 overall in its last 20 games, faces a virtual must-win situation. The Ducks will need to do a better job screening and obscuring the sight lines of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne than they did during Game 3. The trend in the series has been that Anaheim, whose forward corps is led by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg, has been getting fewer shots on goal and fewer shot attempts than Nashville. Perry scored in Game 3, but had only two total shots.

John Gibson will start in goal for Anaheim, which will be missing Kevin Bieksa, Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw due to injuries.

Nashville, which is 12-8 overall in its last 20 games, might well be the smart-money choice to win the Stanley Cup even though they had the fewest points in the regular season of any playoff team.

The Predators have a deep cadre of offensively astute defensemen in Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban. During Game 3 on Tuesday, the Predators’ defensemen took more shots on goal (21) than the entire Ducks team. Filip Forsberg has scored in all three games of the series and has a total of 13 shots on goal.

While the Predators seem to have all the momentum, Anaheim has lost back-to-back games only twice within its last 30 games overall.

The total has gone over in five of Anaheim’s last seven games on the road heading into the Game 4 matchup on Thursday. The total has gone under in nine of Nashville’s last 12 home games, with two pushes. Overall, the team scoring the first goal is 48-25 during the playoffs this year.