Final, Team USA 7-1: That’s it, and that’s all. Team USA steamrolls its way to a 7-1 win in its Olympic opener.
Third period, 15:00, Team USA 7-1: The Americans seem more than fine with their six-goal lead, as they look to have called off the dogs some and are playing fairly conservative.
Meanwhile, on the Slovak side, Zdeno Chara’s ice time hasn’t been anything out of this world, and the Bruins captain has played another solid game. His team has allowed seven goals, but Chara was only on the ice for one of them.
Third period, 11:30, Team USA 7-1: Paul Stastny just made a bid for the hat trick, but Peter Budaj was having none of it.
The goalie made a blocker save on Stastny’s wrist shot from the right wing.
Third period, 8:46, Team USA 7-1: Not to be lost in the fact that the Americans have laid the smackdown on the Slovaks is that Jonathan Quick is playing very well.
He just made a really nice save on a deflection in front of his net, and that is helping the Americans nurse their six-goal lead.
Third period, 5:00, Team USA 7-1: Not a whole lot going on here in the opening minutes of the third period.
The Slovaks are finally starting to tighten up some, but that might have more to do with the Americans sitting on a six-goal lead than anything else.
Third period, 0:10, Team USA 7-1: The third period is underway, and the Americans have killed off Phil Kessel’s slashing penalty.
End second period, Team USA 7-1: The second period is over, and not a minute too soon for the Slovaks.
Second period, 18:10, Team USA 7-1: The Slovaks are getting a power play now.
Phil Kessel was just called for slashing.
Second period, 15:17, Team USA 7-1: This is getting ugly.
Dustin Brown just took a gorgeous centering pass from John Carlson and ripped it by Peter Budaj to give the Americans a six-goal lead.
Second period, 14:22, Team USA 6-1: Phil Kessel is on the board.
Kessel scored as he jammed home a James van Riemsdyk shot-pass after JVR took a gorgeous drop pass from Ryan Kesler.
This is just a beatdown at this point.
Second period, 13:30, Team USA 5-1: This one is getting out of hand.
Paul Stastny just scored his second goal of the game, tipping a shot by Jaroslav Halak. The rout is certainly on.
Halak has been pulled, and he’ll be replaced by Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj.
Second period, 13:00, Team USA 4-1: The Slovaks are starting to show signs of life, but Jonathan Quick has made a couple of big saves. He was helped by a Ryan McDonagh clear in front of the net.
Second period, 8:19, Team USA 4-1: The Americans technically weren’t able to score on the power play, but they scored just as the man-advantage expired.
Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and David Backes all turned in tireless work at the end of the power play, and it was Backes who eventually batted the puck in to score the Americans’ fourth goal of the game.
Second period, 6:09, Team USA 3-1: The Americans are bringing it right now, and they are hemming in the Slovaks. That eventually led to a penalty.
Rene Vydareny was just called for tripping, and the U.S. will get its second power play here.
Second period, 2:32, Team USA 3-1: The Americans now have the two-goal lead.
Paul Stastny just cleaned up the rebound from a Max Pacioretty shot and buried it by Jaroslav Halak. It started with an aggressive forecheck deep in the Slovak zone that forced a turnover that led to the goal.
Second period, 1:26, Team USA 2-1: Just like that, the Americans grab the lead back.
Ryan Kesler just blasted a one-timer from Patrick Kane by Jaroslav Halak to give the U.S. its second lead of the game.
Second period, 0:24, 1-1: We have a tied game.
Tomas Tatar just ripped a shot by Jonathan Quick to make it a 1-1 game. U.S. defenseman Ryan Suter tried to clear the puck along the boards, but he couldn’t. That led the play back the other way, where Tatar ripped the game-tying goal.
Second period, 0:01, Team USA 1-0: The second period is underway.
End first period, Team USA 1-0: The first period has come to a close, and the Americans will take a 1-0 lead to the dressing rooms.
Kevin Shattenkirk had a chance to make it 2-0 late in the period when he hammered a shot from the right point, but Jaro Halak made the kick save on his St. Louis Blues teammate to keep it a one-goal game.
First period, 16:08, Team USA 1-0: Richard Pannik just had a scoring chance for the Slovaks, as he was pretty much alone in the slot, but he couldn’t quite settle the puck and move it from his backhand to forehand. By the time he did, the Americans and Jonathan Quick were able to settle themselves and avoid danger.
First period, 14:27, Team USA 1-0: The Americans strike first.
John Carlson just ripped a big one-timer by Jaroslav Halak for the game’s first goal. Phil Kessel carried the puck into the zone with a ton of speed, and the Toronto Maple Leafs forward dropped it back for the trailing Carlson. The Washington Capitals defenseman hammered the shot from just above the circle, beating Halak over his right shoulder.
First period, 11:59, 0-0: The first American power play was an unsuccessful one.
Team USA got one shot on goal during the man-advantage, in large part due to strong play from the Slovakian penalty kill. The Slovaks did a nice job of being aggressive and taking a lot of the American attack away at the blue line.
First period, 9:59, 0-0: Team USA continues to dictate the pace, and the Americans are going to get the game’s first power play.
Tomas Marcinko just dropped T.J. Oshie in front of the benches with a check from behind, and Marcinko is going to the penalty box for two minutes.
USA is outshooting Slovakia 5-2 in the early going.
First period, 3:38, 0-0: The Americans have gotten their chances in the opening minutes.
First, Phil Kessel took a nifty pass from Joe Pavelski for a chance in close on Slovakian goalie Jaroslav Halak, who made the save at point-blank range.
Then Max Pacioretty took a shot from the right wing that Halak had to push aside with a right pad save.
First period, 0:01, 0-0: And we’re off. Team USA’s Olympics are underway.
7:20 a.m.: Team USA actually announced its lineup, complete with projected lines and defensive pairs, on Wednesday night.
Dan Bylsma’s lineup had no real surprises. Justin Faulk, Derek Stepan and third goalie Jimmy Howard will be the team’s scratches.
One line to watch will be Joe Pavelski’s. The San Jose Sharks forward is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He’s having an absolutely fantastic year, and he should get plenty of help from his linemates. He’ll have a pair of Toronto Maple Leafs at his side with James van Riemsdyk on his left and Phil Kessel on his right. Those two obviously already have plenty of chemistry from playing together in Toronto.
Here are the projected lines and defense pairings for Team USA in its opener.
Zach Parise — David Backes — Ryan Callahan
Dustin Brown — Ryan Kesler — Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk — Joe Pavelski — Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty — Paul Stastny — T.J. Oshie
Cam Fowler — John Carlson
Ryan Suter — Paul Martin
Ryan McDonagh — Kevin Shattenkirk
6:30 a.m. ET: For the first time since a crushing gold medal defeat four years ago, Team USA is returning to the Olympic stage Thursday in Sochi.
The Americans will make their 2014 Winter Olympics debut against Slovakia. It’s not only the team’s first game of these Olympics but also Team USA’s first matchup since losing the gold medal game to Canada in overtime at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
Thursday’s game is the beginning of the preliminary round, and it also begins play in Group A. It’s a group the Americans should find success in (although every team advances to the knockout round), and that should begin against the Slovakians. The Slovaks aren’t the deepest or most talented team, and they’re already shorthanded heading into the tournament. Forward Marian Gaborik is out, as is defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. The loss of those two players alone will make it difficult for the Slovaks.
Now even more than before, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara must be great for Slovakia.
“I don’t think we will ever be among the favorites,” Chara told the IIHF website, according to NHL.com. “We won’t go into the World Championships or into any kind of tournaments as a favorite. But we do have potential, and when we play as a team, as we have shown before, we can be a very strong team. But honestly, to predict who will win or even who will be the toughest team to beat is hard.”
The Americans will put their speed and depth on display in the debut. Team USA has one of the best sets of forwards in the entire tournament, and that should give teams fits, especially given their speed through the neutral zone.
Another area where the Americans should excel is between the pipes. Team USA has three very good goaltenders. Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick will get the first start over 2010 starter Ryan Miller.
Puck drop from Sochi is slated for 7:30 a.m.
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