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Kessel lifts the USA to perfect record in pool play

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Phil Kessel recorded a natural hat trick to give the USA a 5-1 win over Slovenia Sunday at Shayba Arena.

Less than five minutes into the game, Joe Pavelski found Phil Kessel for a pair of goals to jump start the US squad. Kessel completed the hat trick just past the midpoint of the second period.

Pavelski fed Kessel just outside the blue line. Kessel put a move on the defenseman and beat Luka Gracnar between the legs to get the scoring started. Kessel then gave the US a 2-0 lead by knocking a centering, aerial pass from Pavelski into the open net behind Gracnar.

Kessel capped his hat trick by tapping a rebound into the open net behind Gracnar. Pavelski provided the initial shot that was deflected by James van Riemsdyk off the goaltender and out to the backdoor.

The US built their lead to four-goals one minute and 12 seconds later when Ryan McDonagh fired a wrist shot from the right face-off dot over Gracnar’s shoulder. McDonagh took a cross-ice feed from Blake Wheeler.

David Backes capped the scoring for the US by re-directing a backdoor pass from Ryan Callahan into the open net behind Gracnar.

Slovenia never went away and was the better team for the better part of the of the first and second periods. The Slovenians were always in the game and a goal away from making it interesting.

That goal, however, did not come until there was less than 18 seconds remaining in the third period. Marcel Rodman fired a shot through traffic and just inside the post over Ryan Miller’s shoulder.

Depending on the outcome of the Finland-Canada game, the US will be the second or third seed in the single-elimination tournament.

Three Stars

No. 3 - Ryan Miller. The US goaltender stopped 17 shots.

No. 2 - Joe Pavelski. The US forward recorded three assists.

No. 1 - Phil Kessel. The US forward recorded a hat trick.

Boxscore

Slovenia……0 0 1 - 1

USA……….2 2 1 - 5

First Period - 1, USA, Kessel 2 (Pavelski), 1:04. 2, USA, Kessel 3 (Pavelski, Orpik), 4:33. Penalties - None.

Second Period - 3, USA, Kessel 4 (van Riemsdyk, Pavelski), 11:05. 4, USA, McDonagh 1 (Wheeler, Oshie), 12:17. Penalties - Backes, USA (interference), :57; Sabolic, SLO (roughing), 5:32; Oshie, USA (slashing), 12:57.

Third Period - 5, USA, Backes 1 (Callahan, Brown), 3:26. 6, Slovenia, M. Rodman 1 (D. Rodman, Urbas), 19:42. Penalties - Pavlin, SLO (holding), 4:11; van Riemsdyk, USA (high sticking), 10:18.

Shots on goal - Slovenia 7-4-7 18. USA 8-11-9 28.

Goalies - Slovenia, Gracnar (23-28). USA, Miller (17-18). Referees - Mike Leggo, Jyri Ronn. Linesmen - Miroslav Valach, Mark Wheler.

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