Donato's outstanding effort leads U.S. to much-needed victory

Annette Crawford
February 18, 2018

The U.S. next play the Russians and Slovakia meet Slovenia, both on Saturday.

Granato and captain Brian Gionta, 39 and the only US player with previous Olympic experience (2006; the United States finished eighth), told players they have an opportunity in front of them. "And they scored a goal off one of them and from that point we were kind of on our heels". "They've been so good to us, and I've been trying to pick their brains and learn as much as I can".

It certainly helps that the Olympic format means no team gets eliminated after pool play, though it doesn't hurt that the US dominated play for the first two periods against Slovenia before the mix of sitting on the lead and running out of gas proved costly. "It could've been a little fatigue just set in mentally because of the way that the day was".

Kirill Kaprizov scored a hat trick and the Russians buried Slovenia with a four-goal second period on the way to squaring their record in the tournament.

"We're the same team we were in the last game", Kovalchuk said.

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: James Wisniewski #21 of the United States celebrates after defeating Slovakia 2-1 the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 16, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. "After we scored that first goal, I think we really got that extra energy and the feeling that can score some more". "We've got to get more bodies to the net".

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Jan Mursak - who scored twice against the USA - scored off a pass from Miha Verlic in the second period, but Kaprizov scored twice in the third as the Russians pulled away.

"If you try to play safe, you're dead". "When we're up, what's our mentality going to be?"

Goalie Ryan Zapolski made 21 saves for his first Olympic victory, which is crucial considering only the top four of 12 teams avoid the qualification round Monday.

"First game we played a good first five minutes, today we played good all 60", Kovalchuk said. Now it's about harnessing it and not letting it run out.

"We haven't played a whole lot of hockey as a team together". We're not the biggest team. "We have to rely on that quickness and hound pucks and making it be hard to play against us".

The former National Hockey League all star's first came with one second remaining in the second period and he got his second inside the first 30 seconds of the third, rifling a shot over USA goaltender Ryan Zapolski's left shoulder and into the top of the net. F Chad Kolarik and D Will Borgen could get into the USA lineup after being healthy scratches in the opener, though Granato was not displeased with anyone's play enough to make it an easy decision of who to take out.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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