U.S. blanks Denmark, closes on quarterfinals at World Hockey Championship

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The U.S. moved closer to clinching a berth in the World Hockey Championship quarterfinals by blanking Denmark 1-0 in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on Friday.

The U.S. improved to 4-1 in Group B play with two games to go (vs. Slovenia on Sunday (10:15 a.m. ET and NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, 3 p.m. ET) and Slovakia on Tuesday (10 a.m. ET, live on NBCSN and Live Extra.))

The U.S. moved atop Group B with 12 points through five of seven games. Belarus (10 points) and Russia and Finland (nine points each) follow, all having played four games.

The top four nations in the group standings advance to Thursday’s quarterfinals.

The fifth-place team in Group B is Slovakia, with seven points through four games.

If Finland beats Slovakia on Saturday, the U.S. will clinch a quarterfinal berth with a win over Slovenia on Sunday.

Canada, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland are the top teams in Group A.

Against Denmark, New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson scored in the second period, one of 41 U.S. shots. Winnipeg Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck notched a shutout with 21 saves.

The Americans, with one Olympian on their roster (defenseman Justin Faulk), prevailed in their first three games in the Czech Republic-hosted event before falling to Belarus on Thursday.

The U.S. has won three Worlds medals since 1962, all bronze.

Denmark has never made it past the World Championship quarterfinals nor appeared in an Olympic hockey tournament. It did, however, beat the U.S. in group play at the 2010 World Championship.