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October, 1, 2016

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US go winless after loss to Czech Republic

TORONTO -- Left with nothing play for at the World Cup of Hockey, coach John Tortorella told his United States players to play a game for themselves.

They played hard, gave effort in a meaningless round-robin finale but still lost 4-3 to the Czech Republic on Thursday night. With an 0-3-0 record and a minus-6 goal differential, the U.S. finished seventh among eight teams, ahead of only Finland.

"The bottom line is we leave here with nothing," Tortorella said. "Certainly we can't be happy about that."

Previous losses to Team Europe and Canada eliminated the Americans from contention. While Canada, Sweden, Europe and Russia prepare for the semifinals this weekend, the U.S. and Czech Republic played out the string in front of a half-empty arena.

Joe Pavelski, Justin Abdelkader and Ryan McDonagh scored for the U.S., which did not unravel in a meaningless game like it did in the 2014 Olympic bronze medal game. Ben Bishop allowed four goals on 20 shots in two periods, and Cory Schneider made seven saves in relief.

Petr Mrazek stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced to backstop the Czech Republic to its first victory. Milan Michalek scored twice and Zbynek Michalek and Andrej Sustr each had a goal.

U.S. players promised they wouldn't mail it in with nothing to play for. A result of human nature, it felt like an all-star game with a lack of real physicality as everyone wanted to get through without getting injured.

"I thought some guys gave some really true efforts," Tortorella said. "We just didn't find a way to win the hockey game."

Afterward, Tortorella broke from his usual routine and addressed the team.

McDonagh said the message was, "Keep your heads up, you're all great players. You all represent your country to the best of your ability and you were a great group to be around."

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Team Czech Republic's David Pastrnak lies inside the net against Team USA during the first period of World Cup of Hockey action in Toronto, Thursday, Sept. 22. (AP)

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