Kevin Labanc and Conor Garland scored two goals apiece and the United States won its sixth straight game with a 4-2 victory over Italy in its final preliminary game at the world hockey championship on Tuesday.
With the victory, the U.S. clinched first in Group B and will play Slovakia in the single-elimination quarterfinals, which start Thursday.
“Seventeen days ago, we came together some of us not knowing each other, and to now be sitting here in first place, we’re a proud group,” coach Jack Capuano said.
Jake Oettinger made nine saves in winning for the third time in the tournament. Brian Boyle took over as captain with Justin Abdelkader sidelined with an injury.
Italy lost all seven games in the tournament. Italian goaltender Davide Fadani made 39 saves.
Finland, Germany and Canada also advanced in Group B. Russia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia advanced to the quarterfinals in Group A.
The Canadians had to sweat out the final hours of the preliminary round after dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to Finland earlier Tuesday. They moved on after Germany edged host Latvia 2-1.