It was win or go home for Team USA this morning. The winner of this elimination game would advance to the playoff round, joining Canada and Russia in their Group.
The pace of the game from the get-go was intense. After multiple rushes both ways ended in intercepted passes, Cole Bardreau was given a perfect pass from Ryan Hartman through traffic and he was in all alone with the Slovakian goalie, Patrik Romancik. He quickly snapped it under the right shoulder of Romancik to score the game’s first goal. The goal came with 15:49 remaining in the period. After the puck dropped, the Slovakian team scored with 15:44 remaining. Five seconds later! So much for momentum. John Gibson looked surprised after a long-distance saucer pass reached Matus Matis and he quickly tied the game. Then with 14:47 remaining, not even a full minute later, Jake McCabe went forehand-backhand and put the Americans up 2-1.
Johnny Gaudreau saw a US point shot hit the left leg pad of Romancik and promptly grabbed the puck and rebounded it into the net on the backhand. This all happened in the first 10 minutes. After another consecutive faceoff win by Team USA, the puck came back to the side of the net after a deflected shot, and Mike Rielly easily deposited it to the back of the net. This showed the importance of faceoff wins early on. Jim Vesey assisted on the goal, his third of the game.
After Team Slovakia committed a penalty, their shorthanded unit decided to rush up the ice. After the dangerous Team USA powerplay got the puck back, they charged back up the ice on an odd-man rush. After the first shot hit the goalie it then came out and deflected off a Slovakian defenseman’s skate and Jacob Trouba (no surprise there) poked it into the net for a powerplay goal. The score was now 5-1 with 6 minutes remaining in the period.
Shayne Gostisbehere received a 5-minute major and a game-misconduct late in the first period for spearing Matus Matis. Richard Mraz scored 2 minutes into the long powerplay. Gibson was on his back and there was a mad scramble for the puck. Mraz roofed the puck before the US defensemen could clear it down the ice. But the Slovakian powerplay was unsuccessful for the duration of the 5 minutes into the second period.
5 minutes into the following stanza, Johnny Gaudreau (again) made a great deke and backhanded the puck under the shoulder of the Slovakian netminder on the powerplay to extend the US lead to four goals. Not long after that powerplay ended, the United States got yet another opportunity. Vince Trocheck made the score 7-2 with a powerplay goal. As the halfway point in the second period neared, the Slovakians had a 2-man advantage for 1:45. Vince Trocheck snuck in front of the net after winning the faceoff and Biggs fed him a good pass from behind the net. Trocheck struck again to add to the scoring party and make the game 8-2.
As the second period progressed, the Slovakian team had yet another 2-man advantage, and Trocheck once again tried to score for Team USA. He stole the puck and was in all alone on a breakaway, but couldn’t put it home.
Matis scored again for Slovakia halfway through the final period to cut the deficit to five goals. He later proceeded to hit an American player in the head and receive a game misconduct.
Alex Galchenyuk joined the team scoring affair on the powerplay with 3 minutes remaining in the game. This made it 9-3, which was the final score of the game. The United States (2 wins, 2 losses) will advance to the playoff round to play Team Czech Republic (2 wins, 1 overtime win, and 1 loss) on Wednesday at 4:00 AM ET.
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