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United States steamrolls Slovenia to secure bye into the quarterfinals

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On the heels of their shootout win over host Russia on Saturday, the United States closed out their preliminary round play against Slovenia on Sunday.

While they needed extra time and a shootout to defeat the Russians, the game against Slovenia was over quickly for the Americans, who outshot Slovenia 28-18 in the 5-1 win.

Phil Kessel scored the first hat trick for the Americans since John LeClair in 2002, becoming the third player to score three in a game this tournament (joining Jeff Carter and Michael Grabner). Kessel now leads the Olympic scoring race with seven points in three games.

"He can put teams in trouble with that speed,” U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said of Kessel. “And to finish it with the shot that he has, it's one of the more dangerous weapons out there.”

The United States also got goals from forward David Backes and Ryan McDonagh; and Ryan Miller almost got the shutout, allowing Slovenia’s only goal from Marcel Rodman with just 18 seconds remaining in the contest.

The MVP of the 2010 Olympics, Miller has been relegated to backup duty behind Jonathan Quick; but was solid in his first action of the tournament.

"I'm just a tap on the shoulder away any time, is what I told the coach," said Miller. "It was nice to get in the net and contribute."

With the win, the United States earned eight out of a possible nine points in the preliminary round. As the second seed, they now have a bye into the quarterfinals; where they will face the winner of Slovakia and the Czech Republic.