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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 - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59