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Butler & Team USA beat Team Kazakhstan in OT

by Staff Writer / Calgary Flames

EDITORS NOTE: Chris Butler played 17:02 and had one shot on net.

HELSINKI, FINLAND -- There hadn't been any upsets in this year's tournament, not until today's game between Team USA and Kazakhstan. The Americans managed to take the win, but it took them 64 minutes and 38 seconds to do it.

Justin Faulk scored two, including the OT winner for Team USA. Vitali Kolesnik made 47 saves for Kazakhstan.

"You have to tip your hat to [Kolesnik], he played an amazing game," said Team USA goaltender Richard Bachman.

"We did everything we wanted, but we just couldn't score. Their goalie played well, but we were giving him the easy saves a lot of the time," said Team USA captain Jack Johnson.

The last time these two teams met, in May 2010, Team USA beat Kazakhstan 10-0. It was the first game of the relegation round. This year, Team USA is still in the hunt for the top seed in the Helsinki group, while Kazakhstan was in a desperate need for points, should they want to return to the World Championship in the Nordics next season.

"Everybody did a great job and we feel that we can take points, we can win. We start to believe that we can do it, and today we did it, we got a point," said Kazakhstan's Konstantin Pushkaryov.

"We've played just exhibition games the past month and a half. We need to play more international games against good teams. We weren't really ready for teams like Switzerland and France, who skate a lot and play the puck deep because the KHL is more of passing game," he added.

The Americans outshot Kazakhstan 16-6 in the first period, but Vitali Kolesnik, and his supporting cast of shot-blocking skaters, held their own and kept the U.S. off the scoreboard. Kazakhstan had one good scoring chance but Bachman, making his first start of the tournament, couldn’t be beat.

In the second period, Kazakhstan truly gave the U.S. a scare, with two breakaways within minutes from each other. In the first one, Justin Faulk stumbled in the neutral zone which gave Konstantin Romanov an excellent scoring chance. Bachman came out of the net and made a save, but the rebound ended in a Kazakh stick, but then it was Faulk who stopped the puck from entering the American goal.

In his next shift Romanov, again on a breakaway, fired a slapshot from the slot but he missed the net.

Just when Scott Gordon started to look a little troubled behind the American bench, J.T. Brown chased down a puck that Justin Abdelkader had chipped out of the zone, drove to the net and fired an excellent wrist shot that beat Kolesnik high on his glove side, at 16:35 into the second period.

Two minutes later, U.S. captain Jack Johnson received a charging penalty. Kazakhstan’s power play worked, and worked beautifully.

Pushkaryov found first Talgat Zhailauov behind the American net. He carried the puck to the other side and sent the puck to Dmitri Upper on the point. Upper cycled the puck back to Pushkaryov who waited, very patiently, for the U.S. box to give him the space he needed to send a perfect pass back to Zhailauov, who one-timed the puck past Bachman to tie the game with 1:43 remaining in the second period.

About five minutes into the third period Alex Goligoski sent a short D-to-D pass to Faulk, who finished his end-to-end rush in a wrist shot from the top of the circle, beating Kolesnik on his glove side to give Team USA a 2-1 lead in the game at 4:58.

"In the second intermission we talked about shooting the puck higher, and I thought we did a good job of that," Johnson said.

And then, boom, with 4:06 remaining in the game, Zhailauov got the puck in the neutral zone, and simply left the American defencemen behind him. He got Bachman to hit the ice and slammed the puck in, to tie the game, 2-2, which was also the score at the end of regulation time.

The extra time was Team USA's, and with 22 seconds remaining, Max Pacioretty drove towards the net, and flipped the puck to Faulk, who just snapped it in to win the game for the U.S., 3-2.

"To be honest, I didn't think Max saw me come in, and then when he made the pass, I didn't think it would get through. But I just let it go right away and it was lucky enough to go in. We'll take the two points and move on," Faulk said.

Courtesy of the IIHF

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