With great worries about exceptional striker Tim Stützle and a hard-fought victory, Germany's national ice hockey team is heading for the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Finland.

After the 3: 2 (2: 1, 0: 1, 1: 0) against outsiders France, the selection of national coach Toni Söderholm has to fear the loss of the NHL attacker from the Ottawa Senators and thus a severe setback.

However, attacker Leo Pföderl (46th minute) from champions Eisbären Berlin scored important points with his winning goal in Helsinki on Monday.

After a check against his knee, the 20-year-old Stützle had long since disappeared into the dressing room with a pained face.

According to the German Ice Hockey Federation, there was initially no diagnosis.

“That will probably be decided in the next few hours.

We very much hope that things will continue for him," said attacker Marcel Noebels, who did the preparatory work for the winning goal, at Sport1.

"We played in the last third to win and not to see what happens."

In addition to Pföderl, the two Düsseldorfers Daniel Fischbuch (3rd minute) and Alexander Ehl (18th) scored after a strong German start.

But the vicious French fought back again and again and equalized twice through NHL pro Alexandre Texier from the Columbus Blue Jackets (15th) and Hugo Gallet (32nd).

With the second success in the third group game, the DEB selection made the next step towards the hoped-for path to the knockout stages.

"We scored important points for the quarter-finals here today, even though it was difficult," Noebels continued.

After two days off, the match against Denmark continues on Thursday (3:20 p.m. on Sport1 and MagentaSport).

Support the great hope for the offensive

Should Stützle actually fail, further reinforcements from North America would be all the more important: The DEB contacted Lukas Reichel from the Rockford IceHogs and Leon Gawanke from the Manitoba Moose after their end of the season in the second-rate North American AHL.

Before the game against France, Söderholm did not know whether both were healthy and would be traveling to Finland at short notice.

Shortly before the World Cup, another very important creative attacker had failed in the form of former NHL striker Dominik Kahun.

Striker Reichel as a "constant creativity factor" (Söderholm) and defender Gawanke with strengths in build-up play and power play drew attention to themselves at the last World Cup in Riga and contributed to the semi-finals.

The next few days will show whether the team's performance is more likely to be fourth in 2021 or tenth at the Olympics.

Stützle was the great hope for the offensive.

Still with the young Sturm talent, Germany confirmed on Monday the good performance of 2-1 on Saturday against Slovakia, who took part in the Olympics.

The Söderholm squad quickly took the lead with a majority and was clearly dominating afterwards.

Then the focus was on Stützle: After a check, the player from Viersen collapsed on the ice.

And then made a stupid move on the way to the dressing room when he hit his stick and weakened his team with an unnecessary penalty time.

Goalkeeper Mathias Niederberger, who this time was preferred to NHL goalie Philipp Grubauer from the Seattle Kraken, was beaten with a man down.

Because World Cup debutant Ehl deflected a shot from defender Dominik Bittner just three minutes after the equalizer, the favorite was still ahead after the first third.

Due to the absence of Stützle, Söderholm had to change his attack and accept the next setback with the 2:2 in the middle section.

Thanks to a successful combination of AHL striker Marc Michaelis from the Toronto Marlies and Berlin champions teammates Marcel Noebels and Pföderl, the Germans were happy with three more important points.