Matt Grzelcyk earned Player of the Game honors with 1 goal and 1 assist against Slovakia (credit: USAhockey.com)

Matt Grzelcyk earned Player of the Game honors with 1 goal and 1 assist against Slovakia (credit: USAhockey.com)

Special teams were the determining factor in the USA versus Slovakia game played out on Saturday in Mälmo, Sweden. Coming into the game the pair were the top two teams on the power play after a game played. Team USA continued their dominating ways with the man advantage going three for five while only allowing Slovakia to convert on two of their six attempts.

Team USA set the tone in the first period as they killed off their first two penalties before getting their first chance with 3:36 remaining in the first. They only needed 29 seconds of the power play to get a goal as Jack Eichel pressed down the slot with Ryan Hartman bringing the puck in on the right side. Hartman fed Eichel who put it through Richard Sabol’s five-hole to put Team USA up 1-0 with 2:07 remaining in the period.

Sabol put his team down a man again in the closing seconds of the first as he covered a puck near the faceoff dot when he mishandled a puck. Team USA went to work with 43 seconds remaining in the period getting a couple shots on Sabol before Daniel O’Regan finally broke through to pound one in as the horn sounded brining an end to the period to put his team up 2-0 after 20 minutes of play.

Team USA got their third power play opportunity 2:27 into the second period. After almost allowing a short-handed goal on a two on one breakaway Team USA settled things down for the second half of the power play. Ryan Hartman made it 3-0 with five seconds remaining in the man advantage off of a feed from Will Butcher.

Team USA committed their fourth penalty of the match with Ian McCoshen going to the box for tripping midway through the second. They were unable to keep Slovakia off the scoreboard this time as Milan Kolena scored with 1:01 remaining in the power play off of a rebound originally shot by Peter Cehlarik. Moments later Team USA committed another penalty giving Slovakia their fifth man advantage of the game. Forty-eight seconds into the power play it was Milan Kolena taking a shot that bounced off of Gilies pads. Martin Reway followed up to put the puck into the net pulling his team within one with 6:57 remaining in the second.

Slovakia managed to finally kill off a penalty that was committed with a minute remaining in the second. They started the third a man down but Team USA was unable to convert for the first time in the game with the extra man. Slovakia managed to kill of a second penalty moments later actually getting more scoring chances down a man than Team USA did during their power play.

The momentum shifted back towards Team USA who got the first even strength goal of the game when Connor Carrick shot the puck off the back boards that bounced out in front of the goal on the other side where Matt Grzelcyk was standing to tap it in putting Team USA up 4-2 at the 9:33 mark of third. Team USA picked up their second even strength goal with under six minutes remaining in the game with Stefan Matteau netting his first goal of the tourney off of a feed from Andrew Copp. Riley Barber closed out the scoring for Team USA as he and Copp worked their way on a two on one break that finished with Barber getting his first goal of the game, becoming Team USA’s tenth scorer of the tourney. Slovakia got the final goal of the game with Reway netting his second goal of the game.

Reway earned Player of the Game honors for Slovakia with his two goals while Grzelcyk earned the honors for Team USA with one goal and one assist in their 6-3 win over Slovakia.

Team USA’s next game comes against Germany on Sunday (12/29) at 9am ET while Slovakia plays Canada at 11:30am ET on Monday (12/30). Both games will be available to be watched on NHL Network.