A big goal by Jack Eichel in overtime gave the Americans the 5-4 victory, overcoming a late Slovak comeback to clinch first place in Group B.
Slovakia’s Jan Laco was busy right off the bat. In fact, it took just over two minutes for the first potential goal. Steve Moses had an initial chance stopped early on, and after a scramble in front, there was confusion as to whether Matt Hendricks had found a way to knock the puck over the line. After a two minute long review, it was determined the puck never actually did cross the line, meaning the game would stay scoreless.
That all changed rather quickly. Shortly after the no-goal call, John Moore’s slap shot was tipped in by Ben Smith in front of the net, giving the Americans the 1-0 lead before the period was three minutes old. At the four minute mark, Laco’s night was over early after Jack Eichel found Seth Jones from across the ice, allowing the Predators defenseman to score a quick one from the right of the Slovak net to make it 2-0.
The second period saw each team pot a goal. Early on, Anders Lee tipped in a shot from Justin Faulk at the point to get USA the 3-0 lead after 20:21 of play. A minute later, Nick Bonino, who assisted on Lee’s goal, would leave the game with an injury after slamming his right arm into the post after trying to back check.
After six minutes of action in the middle stanza, Marian Gaborik would get Slovakia on the board. After a terrible first period by the entire team, Gaborik would tip in a Vladimír Dravecký shot from the point to give his team their first goal of the game.
Slovakia wasn’t done. The team finally had some momentum to carry out throughout the period, and their deficit was chopped to just one after Adam Janosik’s shot was deflected by American defenseman Brock Nelson and in.
Surprisingly, the strong start for the Americans wouldn’t transfer over well into the second. Vladimír Dravecký would tie the game up at three after some enormous pressure allowed the Slovak forward to take the puck away from Mike Reilly before sliding it past the goal line.
The full second period collapse occurred with two minutes to go in the game. Nothing the Americans did worked out for them, and former Chicago Blackhawk Milan Bartovic made full use of their poor defensive efforts by scoring on the breakaway. The Americans would tie the game up a before the period was over, however, as Charlie Coyle’s wrist shot in the final minute tied the game up at four heading into the second intermission.
With no one able to score again in the third, the game went to overtime. The action was tremendous at both ends, but with 30 seconds left, it would be 2015 NHL Draft star Jack Eichel that would a battle along the boards before sending the puck past a screened Hudacek for the 5-4 victory. The goal clinched first place in Group B, with a berth against Switzerland on the horizon for Thursday.
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