Team USA grabbed itself a much-needed Olympic victory early Friday morning, as the Americans bested Slovakia, 2-1, on the back of Ryan Donato’s two goals. Donato, a forward from Harvard University, has three points in the United States’ first two games in the tournament.
Goaltender Ryan Zapolski was back in net for the United States after the team was shocked in a 3-2 overtime loss to Slovenia earlier in the week. The 31-year-old netminder had 21 saves in the victory while the Americans put up 31 shots in the game.
Thanks to the win, the United States now leads — at least for now — Group B with a total of four points. Team USA nabbed three points due to its regulation win on Friday morning.
The United States got the scoring started seven minutes into the opening frame. Donato put Team USA up 1-0 on an early power play after linemate Troy Terry placed a perfect drop pass off a rush. Donato followed up the USA push and was in the perfect place for Terry’s pass as he fired the puck past Slovakia goaltender Jan Laco:
Ryan Donato with a LASER! He gets @usahockey on the board against Slovakia. #WinterOlympics https://t.co/zLZMW4yf7g pic.twitter.com/WtDYlAta0A— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 16, 2018
The lead didn’t last long for the Americans, however, as the Slovakians scored 25 seconds later. An impossible angle goal was made possible by a deflection off Andrej Kudrna’s stick in front. Zapolski was unable to control the puck as it slipped through his arm before he could close down the net.
While the second period was scoreless, the United States looked to gain its legs a bit despite getting the wind taken out of its sails early.
That pressure kept up when Team USA took the lead once more early in the third period on another power play opportunity. Donato again got the United States on the scoreboard, as a nice move in tight with the man advantage beat Laco five-hole for the 2-1 score. Chris Bourque set up Donato’s stellar goal with a nice pass down low to the forward at the goal line:
Dangle. Celly. @donatoryan puts @usahockey in front in the 3rd! #WinterOlympics https://t.co/zLZMW4PPYO pic.twitter.com/SWEQkYSWLi— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 16, 2018
Slovakia pushed the pace in the third period but was unable to get an equalizing goal on Team USA. The Americans’ hesitant defense seemed to be a thing of the past, as Team USA was able to keep the Slovakians from pulling their goaltender until it was much too late.
The United States will play the Olympic Athletes from Russia on Saturday morning live at 7:10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and on NBC’s Olympics website.