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Smith's hat trick leads U.S. past Finland

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Updated: 5/08/2013 4:57 pm

Helsinki, Finland (Sports Network) - Craig Smith recorded a hat trick to support a strong effort between the pipes from John Gibson as the United States rolled to a 4-1 victory over Finland in Group H action of the 2013 World Hockey Championships.

Gibson stopped 31-of-32 shots to help Team USA rebound from Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Russia, with Stephen Gionta netting the Americans' other goal.

Smith's second tally of the day, a one-timer off a Paul Stastny feed on the power play, snapped a 1-1 tie 3:22 into the third period. Gionta scored just over nine minutes later to give the U.S. a two-goal advantage, with Smith finishing off the hat trick with an empty-net marker with 42 seconds remaining.

Jarno Koskiranta gave Finland a 1-0 lead with just under six minutes elapsed in the contest, but Team USA drew even when Smith re-directed a shot from David Moss into the net with 2:24 left in the opening frame.

The win moved the U.S. into a first-place tie with Russia in the Group H standings with nine points, though the still-unbeaten Russians have played one fewer game thus far during the preliminary round.

The loss, Finland's first in four games for the tournament, dropped the Fins one point behind the Americans and Russians in third place.

Elsewhere in the Group H bracket, Germany picked up its first win of the event with a 2-0 shutout of Austria in Helsinki.

In other Wednesday results, Switzerland remained unbeaten and atop the Group S bracket with a 7-1 rout of Slovenia in Stockholm, Sweden. The Swiss, who upset Canada in a shootout on Sunday, have now prevailed three times in regulation and once in overtime over their first four outings.

Switzerland continues to hold a two-point lead on the host Swedes, who easily downed Norway by a 5-1 count on Wednesday, in Group S.

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