U.S. rediscovers offense in first period vs. Slovakia

Monday, 12.31.2012 / 5:58 AM | Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The United States rediscovered its offensive groove when it needed it most, filling the net early and often against Slovakia to take a 5-2 lead after 20 minutes of the final Group B game for each team.

The winner of this game advances to the medal round, which begins Wednesday. The loser moves to the relegation round.

Jimmy Vesey, promoted to the top line after being the 13th forward for the first three games, led the charge with a pair of assists in the period.

The teams traded breakaway goals early, as the U.S. took a 1-0 lead on a Cole Bardreau goal, but just 14 seconds later Slovakia's Matus Matis tied it.

U.S. captain Jake McCabe put his team ahead when he pinched in and lifted a backhander off a nice pass from Vesey at 5:10. John Gaudreau made it 3-1 when he scored in close on a rebound at 9:00.

Slovakia switched goalies, replacing Adam Nagy with Patrik Romancik, but it didn't do much to change the team's fortunes, as a defensive-zone breakdown allowed defenseman Mike Reilly to sneak in and finish a give-and-go with Vesey to make it 4-1 at 11:46.

Jacob Trouba, who accounted for the entire U.S. offense in the previous two games, made it 5-1 when he scored a power-play goal for the third straight game.

The period ended on a down note for the U.S. as defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was assessed a slashing major and a game misconduct for a play on Matis at 16:49. Slovakia took advantage when Richard Mraz scored with 1:25 left in the period.

The Americans will have to kill the remaining 1:50 off Gostisbehere's penalty to start the second.

Back with more after the second period.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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