Article Written By: Adam Wible
24 hours after becoming an Olympic hero, T.J. Oshie, was looking for someone to pass the spotlight over his head.
Phil Kessel did exactly that Sunday morning, at the Shayba Arena, scoring three goals on three shots. Oshie was pleased to say the least, after he gained so much attention for his performance yesterday.
“I was saying right before the game, I hope somebody does something pretty cool so that some of the focus gets off of me and onto someone else,” Oshie said. “He [Kessel] didn’t need six shots in the shootout to do it. He did it in regular time.”
Kessel scored early and quick to give the U.S. an early 2-0 advantage, through the first period. Both goals came within the first five minutes of play.
Kessel finished his hat trick a little over half way through the second period. Ryan McDonagh added a goal 72 seconds later, to give the U.S. a 4-0 lead, and closed the door on Slovenia.
(Thanks @PETEBLACKBURN for the gifs)
David Backes tallied the final goal for the USA, three minutes into the third.
It is worth noting, Slovenia was limited with their only NHL superstar, Anze Kopitar. He has been battling a stomach bug, the past few days.
“It’s something with the stomach,” Slovenia Head Coach Matjaz Kopitar said. “He didn’t feel well and he was without power so we didn’t want to risk.”
Ryan Miller got the nod, giving a much deserved break to Jonathan Quick.
Miller was in the zone, proving he’s not just here as a cheerleader. Miller made 17 saves, before letting up a goal with 18 seconds left.
Jimmy Howard, who served the past two games as a healthy scratch, was on the bench today serving backup duties to Miller.
“I’m just a tap on the shoulder away any time, is what I told the coach,” Miller said. “I thought Quick, he’s been really impressive in his first games, especially in the shootout situation against the Russians. If I have to support Quickie, I’m going to support Quickie. It was nice to get in the net and contribute.”
There’s a small debate on the U.S. side, on who should start the quarterfinal game. It seems all indications are leaning towards Quick, who is averaging a 1.44 goals against average, and a .944 save percentage, in his impressive tournament wins.
U.S. Head Coach Dan Bylsma, has kept a tight lip about news getting out on who’ll be the starting goaltender.
“We had to keep working to get better, keep focusing to get better with every opportunity,” Bylsma said. “Even with this game [Sunday] we had to keep working to get better. I think we’ve done that for seven days. We’ve set ourselves up with a day off [Monday] and now we have to get ready for Game 4, which for everybody will be an elimination game.”
We now play the waiting game, to see who the U.S. will face in the quarterfinals.
I’d be okay with anybody, but the Swiss.
Party On USA!