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USA earns spot in Olympic quarterfinals

Drew Miller's brother Ryan earns first win of tournament; Kessel nets hat trick

Sunday, 02.16.2014 / 10:22 AM ET / Recap
By Andrea Nelson  - Editorial Assistant | DetroitRedWings.com
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USA earns spot in Olympic quarterfinals
Ryan Kesler, a Livonia, Mich. native, logged the most ice time among USA forwards (18:01) in Saturday's 5-1 victory over Slovenia. (Photo by Getty Images)

Just 24 hours after defeating Russia in a shootout thriller, the USA earned a berth into the Olympic quarterfinals with a 5-1 win over Slovenia. Ryan Miller, the older brother of Wings forward Drew Miller, earned the victory behind 17 saves in his first start of the tournament, and Toronto forward Phil Kessel recorded a natural hat trick to help the Americans finish the preliminary tournament undefeated.

“I thought we had some chances every game and you know we got a couple goals each game and tonight we were fortunate to get a couple more,” Kessel told NBC Sports Net’s Pierre McGuire of his successful line with Joe Pavelski and James van Riemsdyk.

Kessel quickly gave the USA a one-goal lead with his first score just one minute into the contest. Pavelski, who assisted on all three of Kessel’s goals, delivered a nifty pass to his teammate streaking up the ice, and Kessel beat 20-year-old Luka Gracner for his second score of the 2014 Olympics.

The forward gave the USA a 2-0 advantage three minutes later, batting another Pavelski pass out of the air and into the net.

Kessel earned his first career Olympic hat trick, and the first for the U.S. since John LeClair in 2002, with a goal midway through the second period when he cleaned up a rebound off of Toronto teammate James van Riemsdyk’s shot. The 26-year-old leads Team USA with four goals in three games.

“You know the first one was just, Pav’s passed to me wide, made a little move and I buried it five-hold,” Kessel said. “Second one kind of like a 2-on-1 almost. Got a pass out front, a great pass and fortunate enough to get it in. Third one was just a rebound.”

Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored his first career Olympic goal just one minute after Kessel clinched his hat trick, beating Gracner top shelf on a pass from Blake Wheeler.

David Backes gave the Americans a 5-0 lead early in the fourth period, as a backhand pass from Ryan Callahan bounced off Backes’ left skate and was quickly batted in by the Blues forward.

“We got great speed I mean we’re detailed in our structure, we don’t get caught in odd-man looks too often and our special teams have been pretty crucial here too,” McDonagh said.

Marcel Rodman spoiled Miller’s second career Olympic shutout, scoring Slovenia’s lone goal with less than 20 seconds left in the game.

Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was Team USA’s backup for its final preliminary tournament game.

With wins over Slovakia, Russia and Slovenia, the Americans won Group A, receiving a spot in the tournament’s quarterfinals that begin Wednesday.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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