Feb 13, 2014 10:36 PM by Greg Smith
Avalanche center Paul Stastny scored twice in a six-goal second period Thursday to help lead the United States to a 7-1 win over Slovakia in its first game of preliminary play at Shayba Arena.
"It's always special playing against Slovakia," said Stastny, who has family in Slovakia, to the official IIHF website. "I always know family back home is watching, and my parents always watch no matter what. I've never beaten these guys, so it was nice to get it on my third try, on the most important stage."
The Americans now set their sights on Russia, as they face the host country in a highly anticipated matchup on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. MT (NBCSN, CBC). The winner of that game will likely have the inside track of winning Group A and receiving an automatic bye into the quarterfinals.
Team USA opened the game's scoring at 14:27 of the first period on a rocket slap shot by John Carlson (Capitals) that sent the puck into the top-left corner. Carlson, who also had an assist in the game, had plenty of time and space to fire a perfect shot after Phil Kessel (Maple Leafs) brought the puck into the Slovakia zone and sent a drop pass to Carlson to create separation. Kessel finished the contest with three points as he later added a goal and another assist.
Slovakia tied the game at 1-1 just 24 seconds into the second period, but the Americans quickly responded with two goals in 1:06 with Ryan Kesler (Vancouver) and Stastny tallying at 1:26 and 2:32, respectively.
Stastny added his second goal of the game at 13:30 of the period, which gave the U.S. a 5-1 lead at the time.
David Backes (Blues) and Dustin Brown (Kings) also scored for the United States while goaltender Jonathan Quick (Kings) made 22 saves.
Team USA's six goals in the second period tied a modern-day U.S. men's Olympic record (since 1956) for the most goals in a period. The team also scored six goals against Finland on Feb. 26, 2010 (first period).