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Canada, U.S. pushed to limit in victories

MINSK (Reuters) - Canada sealed top spot in Group A at the world ice hockey Championships in Belarus after two goals and an assist from Joel Ward inspired a 3-2 victory over Norway on Tuesday.

United States captain Justin Abdelkader also netted twice as his side gave up the lead three times against Germany before sealing a 5-4 win that moved them into second spot in Group B.

Canada dominated the opening period, outshooting their opponents 15-5, but Anders Bastiansen gave Norway a surprise lead with an unassisted powerplay goal on 13 minutes.

Having had a goal disallowed late in the first spell Canada tied the match three minutes into the second as Ward scored while Norway were a man down, deflecting a Ryan Ellis slap shot past Steffen Soberg.

The Norwegians were coming under extreme defensive pressure in their own zone, but despite creating little in the way of offense, they reclaimed the lead through Mads Hansen on the breakaway as he fired the puck high to James Reimer’s glove side.

Canada drew level for the second time courtesy of Mark Scheifele and despite the heroics of goaltender Soberg, who stopped 39 shots, Norway went behind for the first time in the match when Ward grabbed the winner on a powerplay 10 minutes into the final period.

"It was a long game. We weren’t down and out or anything," said Ward, who has six goals and three assists in seven matches.

"We felt good about ourselves. We had a lot of chances, a lot of shots. We had some power plays. We just gotta capitalize on special teams."

The U.S. was involved in another high-scoring game as they held on to beat Germany 5-4.

After a scoreless first period, Abdelkader and Germany’s Alexander Weiss traded goals to make it 1-1.

The U.S took the lead twice more through Drew Shore and Matt Donovan, but on each occasion they failed to hold their advantage, with Kai Hospelt making it 2-2 and then the impressive Leon Draisaitl tied he game at 3-3 at the end of the second period.  

A powerplay goal two minutes into the third period by Johnny Gaudreau put the U.S. into the lead again and Abdelkader, returning from a one-match suspension, gave his side breathing space with his second.

However, Tobias Rieder notched a fourth for the Germans with 1.57 seconds left to ensure a nervy ending, but the U.S. held on to move into second place ahead of Belarus' match with Russia later on Tuesday.

"We are here to win a gold medal," U.S. and Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones said.

"That's the bottom line and whether we do it is up to how we play. We're not worried about any other teams." 

(Reporting by Dimitriy Rogovitsky; editing by Josh Reich)

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