Article Written By: Adam Wible
USA hockey finally got underway Thursday morning, as the U.S. and Slovakia opened up their tournament. Any questions head coach Dan Bylsma had about how this team would perform in Sochi were answered in a six goal second period for the Americans.
The U.S. got off to a decent start, ending the first period up 1-0, thanks to John Carlson breaking the 0-0 game.
Things got interesting in the second period. Slovakia Forward Tomas Tatar danced offsides into the U.S. zone uncalled and found the back of the net to tie the game at one.
The Americans answered with not one, two, or even three; but six goals to blow the game wide open. Up 7-1, Team USA put it in cruise control from there to lock up their first victory of the Olympics.
“All of a sudden they were all over us,” Slovakia forward Marian Hossa said.
The Slovaks only goal scorer, Tatar, wasn’t pleased after the game.
“All of a sudden it was like guys started to be scared to play and nobody wanted the puck,” Tatar said. “We weren’t good in our [defensive] zone. It was just too easy I felt. It wasn’t like they scored nice goals, for a long time in our zone, circling on us. It was out of nowhere 3-on-2s, drop passes and shots. I felt it was easy for them to score goals like this.”
The U.S. had six different goal scorers and 11 players with at least one point. Joh Carlson had a goal and an assist, Paul Stastny scored twice, and James van Riemsdyk, T.J. Oshie, and Patrick Kane each had two assists. David Backes, Dustin Brown, and Ryan Kesler also scored for the Americans.
“We talked about how we’re going to play and how we’re going to keep playing, keep going forward, and I loved how we responded not just with the next shift and not just with the goals we got there, but that 10 minutes of hockey there,” Bylsma said. “We scored some goals, got the second, third and fourth goal, but it was about how we played. We had our best shifts there in the second period playing in the offensive zone. We had some exceptional shifts by hemming them in. That’s the type of team we are and that’s the kind of team we’re going to have to be.”
Jonathan Quick in his Olympic debut, made 22 saves in the winning effort. This is the first time Team USA beat the Slovaks in the Olympics.
“I think we might have surprised ourselves with some of the plays we made out there,” American Captain Zach Parise said. “It looked like it was clicking pretty early for us.”
Team USA has a 48 hour break between there next game. They face host Russia in a showdown, early Saturday morning (7:30 EST., NBCSN, CBC) at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
“I think it’ll be loud and it’ll definitely be a hostile environment,” Patrick Kane said. “I think it’ll be a lot more enthusiastic and intense than this game [Thursday], so we’ve got to make sure to get ready for that game as much as possible.”