FINAL SCORE: USA 5, Slovenia 1
The U.S. won its final game of the group stage with a 5-1 blowout of Slovenia. Winger Phil Kessel scored a natural hat trick, and the Americans also got great play from the fourth line of center Paul Stastny and wingers T.J. Oshie and Blake Wheeler. Goalie Ryan Miller was terrific in his first action of the Olympics, though he was burned on a late Slovenian goal with 17.6 seconds to play.
The Americans were a little flat for long stretches -- no surprise after their dramatic victory over Russia on Saturday -- but they capitalized nearly every time they were able to create pressure in the offensive zone. With the victory, the U.S. will now have two days off before its next game. Meanwhile, Russia had to face another shootout before finally beating Slovakia, 1-0.
Qualifying round looks like this barring a blowout in Canada-Finland game. Russia-Norway, Suisse-Latvia, Czech-Slovakia, Slovenia-Austria — Craig Button (@CraigJButton) February 16, 2014
To get a sense of the flow of Team USA's game, scroll down to the bottom of the page and read your way back up.
9:38: SLOVENIA GOAL! Marcel Rodman scores with 17.6 seconds left on a bang-bang play.
9:34: Slovenia is playing all the way to the end -- good pressure. No Kopitar, who has been off the ice for the entire period with no word on his status. Not good for the Kings.
Slovenian head coach Matjaz Kopitar said his son, Anze, would go to local hospital for blood tests after falling ill during U.S. game. — Scott Burnside (@ESPN_Burnside) February 16, 2014
9:30: Kessel almost scores a fourth off a great feed from Pavelski. Is there a hockey term for four goals in a game?
9:27: Good penalty kill for the U.S. No shots for Slovenia. American defense has been just terrific through three games.
9:24: Penalty on U.S. Headed to the box is van Riemsdyk. High stick. Slovenian power play.
9:18: U.S. much more in control of the game in the final period so far. Slovenia seems to have surrendered to the inevitable ... either that or the Americans have finally broken free from any let down coming from the big win over Russia.
9:16: Penalty on Slovenia as Stastny and Oshie create some U.S. opportunities. Americans on the power play.
9:14: U.S. GOAL! Callahan throws the puck to the front of the net and a crashing Backes slaps the puck home after it hits his skate. No kicking motion. Should be a good goal.
9:11: Another save for Miller on a Slovenian shot from the point. That's 12 saves for him so far. Quick's save percentage is .944. Miller's so far is 1.000. U.S. goaltending has been outstanding so far. No wonder the Americans have the best goal differential at the Games.
9:09: Puck has dropped to start the third period. Here we go!
8:54: And that's the end of the second period. U.S. leads 4-0 in a funny, entertaining game.
8:51: I know Kessel has the hat trick, but Kane is the best player on the ice. Just so creative and elusive. Stymied a couple of times by Russia in OT yesterday, but he's going to score a big goal in this tournament at some point.
8:49: Slovenians with more sustained pressure at even strength. Let down by the U.S. today, ever so slightly. Still have a 4-0 lead. Weird game.
8:47: Penalty over. Back to even strength.
8:44: Oshie going to the penalty box for a slash. Slovenian power play. U.S. penalty kill has been good so far in the tournament. Will be interesting to see how things go now. Americans had the momentum, but Slovenia has had long stretches of dominance today.
8:42: U.S. GOAL! Wheeler with a great individual effort. Lugs the puck around from the right to the left point. Throws it to McDonagh for the one-timer from the right side. Top shelf. U.S. goal. Impressive.
8:40: U.S. GOAL! Kessel gets the hat trick! Scores off a rebound with van Riemsdyk screening in front of the net. Bang-bang play. U.S. finally put some pressure on Slovenia and it paid off -- were getting outplayed up to that point.
8:39: Line of Oshie, Stastny and Wheeler finally generating some sustained pressure for U.S. at five-on-five.
8:37: Careless play from Miller. Trying to clear behind the net, the puck gets turned over to Slovenia. U.S. very lucky that it's not 2-1.
8:33: End-to-end action on U.S. power play. Slovenia gets a breakaway off of a blocked Pavelski shot, but he hustles back to smother the opportunity. No goals either way. Time to exhale.
8:31: Stastny with a great chance off the rush from the left side. Power play for U.S. after some jostling in front of the Slovenian net after the whistle.
8:29: Back-to-back opportunities for both teams. U.S. still getting outplayed overall, though.
8:25: Great work from Miller on some good shots from Slovenia. When Miller covered puck to stop play, it actually looked like Slovenia was starting to celebrate. Bullet dodged for the Americans.
8:22: Puck has dropped to start the second period.
8:06: Horn sounds and the first period ends with the U.S. still up 2-0. Interesting to see how things go in the second. Slovenia strong after a very poor start.
8:03: U.S. with another turnover between the blue lines. Just can't maintain a rush. Turns into another scoring chance for Slovenia. Miller has been playing great ... as expected.
8:00: Slovenia with another great scoring chance, which necessitates a save from Miller. U.S. getting outplayed right now.
7:56: One-timer by Kane from the right point off of a good cross-ice pass from Brown. First U.S. chance in a while.
7:54: After a quick start for the U.S., Slovenia has looked like the better team. More organized. More opportunities.
7:50: U.S. hasn't had a shot since Kessel scored his second goal of the game. Slovenia might be an underdog in this game, but it's no joke.
7:47: Small break here as Miller scoops up the puck. Almost halfway through the first period. This game is moving along.
7:45: Good pressure from Slovenia here. Generating offense with more than one line.
7:43: Miller getting a good test early from the line of the Kings' Anze Kopitar.
7:41: U.S. GOAL! Kessel gets his second as Pavelski throws the puck from behind the net to in front of the crease. Again, all U.S. so far.
7:39: Action is all U.S. so far. Pavelski line looks really good.
7:36: U.S. GOAL! First U.S. goal is an absolute beauty. Pavelski to Kessel, who nutmegs the Slovenian defenseman.
7:35: And the puck has dropped.
7:31: Extra forward/defenseman for U.S.: Stepan/Orpik
7:30: U.S. defense pairings are: Fowler -- Carlson; Suter -- Martin; McDonagh -- Shattenkirk.
7:28: U.S. lines are: Parise -- Backes -- Callahan; Brown -- Kesler -- Kane; van Riemsdyk -- Pavelski -- Kessel; Wheeler -- Stastny -- Oshie.
7:23: Good morning. Welcome to the Live Blog. Your U.S. lineup today includes 2010 Olympic hero Ryan Miller in goal, with Jimmy Howard backing up. Looks like Jonathan Quick will get a well-deserved break.