Phil Kessel scored three goals to propel the U.S. men’s hockey team into the quarterfinals of the Sochi Winter Games with a 5-1 defeat of Slovenia as the host Russians defeated Slovakia 1-0 in a shootout. Canada beat Finland 2-1 in overtime as Drew Doughty scored twice.
Kessel, a Toronto Maple Leafs forward in the National Hockey League, had two goals within the first five minutes of yesterday’s game to put the Americans in control and then added another halfway through the second period by pouncing on a rebound.
“I’m playing with some great players who help you along,” Kessel told reporters. “It’s not about me, it’s about the win. We can still improve more and we have to get a lot better.”
Less than a minute after Kessel’s final goal, defenseman Ryan McDonagh put a shot high over goaltender Luka Gracnar’s glove hand. David Backes closed the scoring with a third-period goal before Slovenia’s Marcel Rodman broke through against American goalie Ryan Miller with 18 seconds remaining.
The U.S., which won silver in the last Winter Games, wore the throwback uniforms of the 1960 squad, the first American team to win the ice hockey gold.
The Americans had 28 shots on the Slovenian goal, 10 more than their opponents.
In the other Group A game, Russia -- which lost 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout in its last match -- was held to a 0-0 tie by Slovakia through overtime before winning with goals from Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk in the shootout as Slovakia failed on its two attempts.
Slovakia, which finished last in the group with no wins, had 27 shots on goal, 10 fewer than Russia.
“We knew they’d play defensively,” Russian forward Alexander Ovechkin told reporters. “They had nothing to lose and all our expectations came true. They stood on the blueline in fours and we had to overcome this defense.”
The Russians have won eight gold medals in Olympic hockey, a mark that Canada tied in its home Vancouver Games in 2010. A sixth-place finish in Vancouver was the worst result by a Russian or Soviet hockey team since the country’s first appearance on Olympic ice in 1956. The Russians’ most recent Olympic gold came in 1992 in Albertville, France.
Canada, which won the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, got a first-period power-play goal from the Los Angeles Kings’ Doughty. Finland, which also entered game unbeaten, got a deflection from Tuomo Ruutu to tie the game in the second.
The third period was tight, with Canada unable to get anything out of its 8-2 shots advantage.
Both teams had chances in overtime, but Doughty swept into the Finnish zone and wristed a shot past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to end the game.
Canada advanced as the top team in the group, while Finland does as well as the runner-up.
Sweden and Switzerland qualified from the final group, with the Swedes advancing as the top team, having beaten the Swiss 1-0.
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