After an emotional and intense shootout victory over Russia on Saturday, the USA men's hockey team faced what shaped up to be a possible trap game on Sunday. Instead, Team USA used a Phil Kessel hat trick and goals by Ryan McDonagh and David Backes to overwhelm Slovenia, 5-1, in the final preliminary round game of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Kessel scored twice in the first five minutes of the first period to give the U.S. a quick jump on Slovenia and an early 2-0 lead. The second goal of which was a nifty redirect of the puck out of midair. The Slovenians would respond and push back against a sleepy USA team, who appeared to back off somewhat after building the quick lead. Only the partnership of Kessel and center Joe Pavelski seemed able to actually pressure Slovenia, who had proven a capable foe against Russia and then in their surprising win over Slovakia.
Slovenia would put 12 shots on goal in through the first half of the second period, controlling play and dominating possession before Kessel scored his third goal of the game, a nifty one-timer off a stunning cross-crease pass by James van Riemsdyk. McDonagh would ice the game with a goal of his own just over a minute later, giving the U.S. a four-goal lead and complete control over an eventually-overwhelmed Slovenian team.
The Americans just had too much size and speed for the Slovenians, who put up a respectable fight but were ultimately overwhelmed by a deep USA roster. Slovenia would manage just five shots in the final 30 minutes of regulation, two of which came in the final minutes of the game.
Ryan Miller, in goal for the game of the Olympics, stopped 17 of 18 shots faced in the game and wasn't tested much in the 30 minutes of regulation. Miller missed out on a shutout by just 18 seconds, allowing a Marcel Rodman goal with as regulation ticked down.
Team USA now waits on the outcome of Sunday's matchup between Canada and Finland to determine final seeding, but has earned a bye into the Quarterfinals round with the victory. If the Canada-Finland contest ends in regulation and is a relatively close game, then the US would end up the third seed in the Quarterfinals and would face the winner between Latvia and Switzerland. Should that game go to overtime, USA would be seeded second and would face the winner between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.