Max Pacioretty and The United States got off to a great start to the 2014 Olympic Games, defeating Slovakia 7-1 this morning.
The Americans dominated control of the play in the first period but were only able to come away with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. John Carlson opened the scoring on a Phil Kessel drop pass that he shot like a laser over the blocker of former Montreal Canadien Jaroslav Halak in the Slovakian net.
Tomas Tatar tied the game at one early in the second period, but the United States kept applying pressure and it paid off quickly after the Tatar goal. Just a minute later Ryan Kesler made it 2-1 USA and then Max Pacioretty got in on the act. He drove to the net and received a nice pass from linemate T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues. Pacioretty was stopped by Halak, but Paul Stastny made no mistake depositing the rebound, and Max earned his first Olympic point with the assist.
The United States did not stop there as they scored a total of six goals in the second period, chasing Halak and bringing Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj into the game. Budaj came in when the score was 5-1 and allowed the first two shots he faced, extending the American lead to 7-1. He settled down in the third and stopped the six shots that were directed his way in the final frame.
Pacioretty played a great game with his new linemates Oshie and Stastny. The trio had immediate chemistry and looked like they had been playing together for years. Stastny finished with a pair of goals, Oshie had two assists and Pacioretty had the lone helper. Pacioretty played 11:30 and led the team with four shots on net.
The Americans next game is Saturday morning when they take on the host Russians. Russia beat Slovenia 5-2 after surviving a bit of a scare from the team with the least expectations in the tournament. The game between Russia and USA promises to be the best of the preliminary round.