Kings at the World Championships, Day 11.

Jonathan Bernier engaged in his first duel with Erik Ersberg since the most recent Kings training camp. Monday’s duel was far more entertaining.

Bernier made 23 saves in Canada’s 3-2 win over Sweden in Kosice, Slovakia on Monday. Erbserg battled well in a game in which Sweden was outshot 43-25, making 40 saves. The teams were tied 2-2 when Rick Nash deflected a Brent Burns shot past Ersberg with Canada on the power play at 12:31 of the third period.

Both teams get to keep playing, and could meet again in the finals. Canada will play Russia in the single-elimination quarterfinals on Thursday. Sweden plays Germany on Wednesday.

Earlier Monday, Jack Johnson and Team USA lost a relatively inconsequential 5-3 game to Swizterland. Johnson played a scoreless 23:49 (leading the U.S. in time on ice) and finished a minus-3.

The U.S. plays the Czech Republic on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The winner of that game meets the winner of Germany-Sweden in the semifinals.

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Kings at the World Championships, Day 9. Update.

Jonathan Bernier’s last game before Saturday was an April 4 relief appearance in the Kings’ 6-1 loss to the Sharks in San Jose.

His thoughts, as told to IIHF.com, following Team Canada’s 3-2 win over Norway were understandable: “I was excited,” said Bernier, “because I haven’t played for about a month, so for me the big thing was to get that first shot on goal and get used to the bigger ice surface.”

Bernier finished with 25 saves, allowing both Norway goals in the final 10 minutes after Jason Spezza, John Tavares and James Neal spotted Canada a 3-0 lead.

James Reimer, who had started every game for Canada at the tournament prior to Saturday, served as the backup to Bernier rather than play on back-to-back days.

With the win, Canada clinched one of eight spots in the quarterfinal round.

Jack Johnson and Team USA breathed more life into their quarterfinal aspirations Saturday, while Michal Handzus and Team Slovakia met a disappointing fate.
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The overtime conundrum.

During a sprawling end-of-season interview with reporters last week, I asked Kings general manger Dean Lombardi about his team’s overtime problem.

Whether it was 4-on-4 during the regular season (when they went 1-4) or 5-on-5 during the playoffs (when they went 0-3), the Kings didn’t take kindly to the whole sudden-death thing. Of course in the regular season, there was always the promise of a shootout to bail them out; no team did better in the skills competition last season than the Kings (10-2).

But that didn’t mean much in the playoffs. As many observers feared, the regular-season trend continued and the Kings lost all three overtime games against the Sharks, costing them the series.

Is there something to that?

“You wonder that if you get to an overtime that that’s when now it swings more toward the offensive side of the equation,” Lombardi said. “It was said to me yesterday, actually … ‘defense wins games, but offense wins overtimes,’ is the way it was put to me. This hockey person is pretty sharp. He wasn’t sure on it, but if you think that, there might be something to that.”

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Kings at the World Championships, Day 8. Update.

Historically, shootouts have been a more popular means for deciding hockey games in Europe than North America. When in Slovakia …

Canada beat the United States, 4-3, in qualification-round play in Kosice, getting shootout goals from Rick Nash and Jordan Eberle to seal the win. Ty Conklin made 48 saves between regulation and overtime, but couldn’t stop either shootout attempt he faced. Kings defenseman Jack Johnson, who went first, and Blake Wheeler missed on both U.S. shots.

Johnson scored his first goal of the tournament in the second period to temporarily give the U.S. a 2-1 lead. He finished a plus-1 in 28 minutes, including more than half (2:38) of the overtime period.

Just as they would in an NHL game, the U.S. gets a point for the shootout loss. They moved into sole possession of fourth place in Group F, from which four teams will advance into the next (playoff) round. Canada leads the group with seven points.

Later Friday, Michal Handzus and Team Slovakia lost 3-2 to the rival Czechs, crushing their chances of advancing out of the Qualification Round. Now, according to IIHF.com, Slovakia needs to win its games against Finland and Denmark, and Finland shouldn’t take points in its last game against Russia.

Handzus played a scoreless 18:56 in the game, which was played in Bratislava, less than three hours from Handzus’ hometown of Banska Bystrica.

Martin Havlat, Marek Zidlicky and Patrik Elias scored for the Czechs.

Jonathan Bernier is expected to start for Team Canada tomorrow against Norway.

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Williams undergoes shoulder surgery.

Justin Williams underwent successful surgery Tuesday to repair damage to the labrum in his right shoulder, the Kings announced today. The surgery was performed at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic.

The right wing missed the last nine regular-season games with the injury, but postponed surgery so he could play in the playoffs. He appeared in all six games against San Jose, scoring three goals and adding an assist.

Williams is expected to make a full recovery in time for training camp.

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Kings at the World Championships, Day 6.

Jack Johnson couldn’t do much about a 6-2 U.S. loss to Sweden on Wednesday at the World Championships — a game that is being replayed right now on Versus.

The Kings defenseman played a team-high 19:46, putting four shots on goal and finishing with an even-0 rating.

Now that group play is complete, the U.S. has three games scheduled for the qualification round: Friday against Canada (and, possibly, Jonathan Bernier), Saturday against France, and Monday against Switzerland, all in Kosice.

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Kings at the World Championships, Day 5.

Michal Handzus and Slovakia (1-2) clinched third place in Group A Tuesday with a 4-3 loss to Russia. Handzus finished scoreless with a minus-1 rating in 19:23 for the host country, which lost despite the return of former Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from shoulder injuries.

Germany won the group at 2-1-0-0 (wins-overtime wins-losses-overtime losses), with Russia placing second and Slovenia fourth.

Group play is over; Slovakia next plays Thursday and will learn its opponent tomorrow.

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Kings at the World Championships, Day 4.

Jack Johnson had an assist in the U.S.’s come-from-behind 4-2 win over Norway on Monday in Kosice, Slovakia.

Norway scored twice in the first period and still led 2-0 until the first of four U.S. goals at 1:16 of the third period. Nick Palmieri broke the shutout with the first of his two goals. Jack Skille and Craig Smith also scored for the U.S.

Johnson was a minus-2 with four shots on goal in 22:42.

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Brown named finalist for NHL Foundation Award.

Dustin Brown was named a finalist for the NHL Foundation Player Award on Monday for the third consecutive year. The nominees, who were submitted to a panel by their respective clubs, must meet the criterion of “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community.”

Mike Green of the Washington Capitals and Daniel and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks are the other finalists.

From the Kings’ release:
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Kings at the World Championships, Day 3.

Michal Handzus made his debut at the IIHF World Championships for Slovakia on Sunday, playing a scoreless 20:33 and finishing plus-1 in his team’s 4-3 loss to Germany.

Germany took a 4-0 lead into the third period before goals by Ladislav Nagy, Josef Stumpel and Pavol Demitra scored over the final 14:34 to make it interesting.

Jonathan Bernier wasn’t in the lineup for Canada in their 9-1 thumping of France. James Reimer and Devan Dubnyk split the goaltending duties.

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