GLENDALE – Team USA has won its first three games at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Czech Republic. Its perfect 3-0 record marks the best start by an American squad at the annual event since 1997.
Team USA's strength is its defense - the Americans have held opponents to just four goals in the first nine periods.
"We have NHL players, guys who have played significant roles on their teams," Team USA Head Coach Todd Richards told reporters before the tournament began last Friday. "We have mobile guys who can get up the ice and contribute offensively."
Coyotes defensemen Connor Murphy and John Moore are among the blueliners helping Team USA win games at the tournament. Richards has paired Murphy and Moore, presumably because they played almost exclusively together with Arizona over the final two weeks of the 2014-15 season. Murphy is averaging 15:58 of ice time per game while Moore is playing 14:24 per game.
Other Team USA defensemen include Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes), Seth Jones (Nashville Predators), Torey Krug (Boston Bruins) and Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs).
On Monday, Team USA, playing its third preliminary-round game in four days, upset defending champ Russia 4-2. Defense was key; Russia entered the game averaging more than 30 shots per game and the Americans limited them to just 17.
"It's a real credit to our players," Richards told reporters after the win. "Once they got into our zone, we tried to take away their time and space. At times we were able to do that and other times you just can’t. When that happened credit to our goaltender (Jack Campbell) for making some big saves."
Forward Mark Arcobello, who played for four NHL teams in 2014-15, including the Coyotes, scored the game-winning goal for Team USA vs. the Russians.
"It was a lot of fun," Arcobello told reporters. "The Russian fans kept the arena buzzing. It was nice to beat them on that ice."
Arcobello netted nine goals in 27 games for Arizona after being claimed off waivers in February.
Team USA resumes its schedule on Thursday when it takes on Belarus.
• Oliver Ekman-Larsson is leading all defensemen in scoring at the World Championship. In three games, Ekman-Larsson has notched five points (one goal, four assists) for Team Sweden, which is undefeated.
• Mike Smith has stopped 38 of 42 shots in two games for Team Canada for a .904 save percentage. That ranks seventh among goalies at the event.
• Forward Tobias Rieder has notched one assist in three games for Team Germany, which has scored just two goals in the tournament. Rieder has taken a team-high seven shots.
WATCH: Q & A with Mark Arcobello
WATCH: Q & A with John Moore
WATCH: Q & A with Connor Murphy
WATCH: Mark Arcobello's GWG vs. Russia