Photo credit: Richard Mackson/USAToday Sports
Prior to the opening faceoff, it looked to a close matchup. While the Americans, on paper, were the deeper club, the Slovakians had plenty of talent on their side from Zdeno Chara to the Hossa brothers to the young Red Wings sensation Tomas Tatar. But once the puck dropped, it was anything but a close game.
Despite manning the net for the US in every game in 2010, Buffalo’s Ryan Miller did not get the start in his country’s opener. Instead, Los Angeles’s Jonathan Quick got the nod which was a well-deserving move despite some calling the decision a surprise.
Wednesday night on TSN, analyst (and former NHL netminder) Jamie McLennan said that in order for Quick to have success on the larger ice surface, he’d have to change his over-aggressive style of play. Quick didn’t need any adjusting, granted he had plenty of help up front.
At the 14:27 mark of the first, Washington’s John Carlson opened up the scoring, beating netminder Jaroslav Halak. The Leafs duo of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk picked up the helpers.
While the first period was close, the second was the complete opposite.
After Tomas Tatar beat Quick to tie the game, the Americans exploded with six unanswered goals.
Just 1:02 after Tatar’s goal, Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler regained the US lead followed by goals from Paul Stastny, David Backes and Stasny again. After Stastny’s second made it 5-1, Jaroslav Halak was pulled from the Slovakia net in favour of Montreal’s Peter Budaj, who fared little better.
Before the second was out, Phil Kessel notched his second of the game to make it 6-1. Then, 57 seconds later, Dustin Brown got the Kings on the board (okay, not really) with help from John Carlson and Patrick Kane who assisted on the goal.
After 40 minutes, the US was romping the Slovaks by a 7-1 score – and that was all the scoring in this one.
After a fairly uneventful third period, the US celebrated with a blowout win to kick off their preliminary schedule.
While he wasn’t needed to be his usual self thanks to all the offensive support, Jonathan Quick was nonetheless sharp stopping 22 of 23 shots en route to the victory.
It was certainly an ideal way to start their bid for gold. Now, the United States have a day off before resuming their schedule on Saturday. Then, Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown will lock horns with Kings teammate Slava Voynov as the US takes on Russia. Game time will be the same: 4:30am PST (7:30pm EST).