Despite dominating Kazakhstan from start to finish on Friday at the 2012 IIHF World Championship, Team USA needed an overtime goal from Justin Faulk, his second tally of the game, to win 3-2 at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.
Forced to go to overtime against a winless opponent, the United States looked to avoid the upset, outshooting the Kazakhs 8-0 in the extra period. Despite the onslaught, it appeared that overtime might solve nothing until, with 22 seconds remaining in the extra period, Faulk managed to beat goalie Vitali Kolesnik for the win.
While Faulk was the hero of the game for the United States, it was Kolesnik who stole the show as the Americans outshot their opponent by a stunning 50-19 margin.
Faulk's first goal of the game gave the United States a 2-1 lead just under five minutes into the third period. But Kazakhstan managed to battle back with Talgat Zhailauov earning the tying goal with 4:06 remaining in regulation.
The Americans held a 16-6 edge in shots after 20 minutes, but despite the barrage of pucks aimed at Kolesnik, he managed to keep the game scoreless.
The Kazakhs had their best period of the game in the second, as Konstantin Romanov skated in all alone on USA goaltender Richard Bachman early in the frame. Bachman made the save and, in a sign of the heroics to come, Faulk, whose earlier stumble caused the breakaway, swooped in to keep a second shot off Bachman's rebound from going in the net.
From there, it was the Americans who struck first as J.T. Brown opened the scoring after chasing down a dump-in from Justin Abdelkader and driving for the net. Kazakhstan responded swiftly, as Jack Johnson was called for charging two minutes after Brown's goal and Konstantin Pushkaryov scored on the ensuing power play to tie the game.
Following the scare, the U.S. will need to find a way to capitalize on their shots in their next game on Sunday against the co-host and defending World Champion Finns, who have allowed the fewest goals in the tournament.
Canada 5, Finland 3
Down 2-0 to the defending world champions, Canada scored five unanswered goals in the final two periods to beat the host team, which had allowed just three goals in its first four games of the tournament. The win put Canada in the driver's seat in its group, improving their record to 4-0-1.
But the Canadians' victory got off to a rocky start.
Canada was outshot 15-4 and outscored 2-0 in the opening period. With Finland already up 1-0 on Antti Pihlstrom's goal, Canada was forced to kill of a 5-on-3 Finnish advantage midway through the period when Dion Phaneuf was called for slashing with 18 seconds remaining in Kyle Quincey's cross-checking minor. Just eight seconds after Quincey raced out of the penalty box, Finnish captain Mikko Koivu doubled his team's lead off a feed from Jussi Jokinen.
After the lackluster first, Canada came out determined in the second, with Alexandre Burrows, playing his first game back following an upper-body injury, scoring to halve the Finns' lead. But Jokinen restored the lead with a power-play goal after Jeff Skinner was called for elbowing. Perhaps looking to redeem himself, Skinner took over from there. The 19-year-old center set up linemate John Tavares' goal later in the period before scoring with 1:42 remaining in the second to tie the game.
Canada completed the comeback in the third when Evander Kane beat Kari Lehtonen 6:04 into the period to give Canada its first lead of the game. Cam Ward did the rest, finishing with 35 saves -- including a number of big stops in the third, particular late in regulation after Corey Perry was called for high-sticking. Jordan Eberle scored into an empty net to ice the victory with his tournament-leading fourth goal.
Canada next plays Saturday against Kazakhstan while the Finns will face off against the Americans on Sunday.
Russia 7, Sweden 3
Evgeni Malkin spoiled the day for the host Swedes and the crowd at the Globe Arena in Stockholm by scoring three goals and adding two assists as Russia (5-0-0-0, 15 points) ran off six unanswered goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
Sweden (4-0-0-1, 12 points) appeared to be in control after goals by Erik Karlsson, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen put the Russians in a two-goal hole midway through the second period. But power-play goals by Malkin and Alexei Yemelin late in the period made it 3-3 after 40 minutes, and Alexander Perezhogin batted home an airborne puck 15 seconds into the third period to put Russia ahead to stay. Malkin scored his second and third goals and had an assist on a last-minute tally by Denis Denisov to turn the game into a blowout. He leads all players with 12 points.
Sweden hosts Italy on Saturday, while the Russians don't play until they meet the Czech Republic on Sunday.
Czech Republic 6, Italy 0
Petr Caslava scored twice, including once shorthanded, and four other Czechs found the back of the net as the Czech Republic won its third straight game after losing its opener to Sweden.
The Czechs opened the scoring on the game's first power-play attempt as Petr Nedved scored with Matt de Marchi serving a tripping penalty. It was the first of three goals the Czechs scored with the man advantage -- Ales Hemsky and Martin Erat had the others. Jakub Stepanek made 20 saves for the shutout, but it was Italian goaltender Thomas Tragust who was kept busy through most of the game, stopping 35 of 41 shots.
In their next match against Russia on Sunday, the Czechs will likely have their toughest test since the loss to Sweden, which will meet Italy that same day.