EDITORS NOTE: Flames blueliner Chris Butler played 14:17 in the game. He was pointless and had an even rating.
HELSINKI, FINLAND -- Kyle Okposo (St. Paul, Minn./New York Islanders/Univ. of Minnesota) scored twice and Max Pacioretty (New Canaan, Conn./Montreal Canadiens/Univ. of Michigan) tallied a goal and two assists as the U.S. Men's National Team defeated France, 7-2, here today at Hartwall Arena in the opening game of the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship.
"It's obviously good to open with a win," said Scott Gordon, head coach of the U.S. Men's National Team. "It was a much closer game than the final score indicated. I like what I've seen from our team so far, both in the two games we've played and in practice."
France opened the scoring at 12:17 of the first period, but Okposo scored on a breakaway 4:35 later to tie the game. Alex Goligoski (Grand Rapids, Minn./Dallas Stars/Univ. of Minnesota) hit Okposo in stride through the neutral zone to create the scoring chance.
The U.S. took its first lead of the game at 3:56 of the second period when captain Jack Johnson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Columbus Blue Jackets/Univ. of Michigan) ripped a one-timer from the center point while on the power play past France netminder Cristobal Huet. Ryan Lasch (Lake Forest, Calif./Lahti Pelicans/St. Cloud State Univ.) and Justin Faulk (South St. Paul, Minn./Carolina Hurricanes/Univ. of Minnesota Duluth) assisted on the play.
On the power play once again, the U.S. extended its lead to 3-1 on a goal by Bobby Ryan (Cherry Hill, N.J./Anaheim Ducks). Pacioretty fed the puck from the left corner into the crease, where Ryan one-touched it between the legs of the Huet at 9:15.
Following a French goal at 13:17 that made it 3-2, Team USA reestablished a two-goal advantage with just 22 seconds left in the middle stanza when Pacioretty redirected a Goligoski's wrist shot from the left point.
Team USA put the game away in the third period by scoring three times. Jim Slater (Lapeer, Mich./Winnipeg Jets/Michigan State Univ.) converted a two-on-one thanks to a feed from Kyle Palmieri (Smithtown, N.Y./Anaheim Ducks/Univ. of Notre Dame) at 5:38. Okposo scored into the upper corner of the net on a sharp-angle shot at 11:00 and Jeff Petry (Ann Arbor, Mich./Edmonton Oilers/Michigan State Univ.) ended the scoring at 17:41 during a delayed penalty against France.
Jimmy Howard (Syracuse, N.Y./Detroit Red Wings/Univ. of Maine) picked up the win in the U.S. net with 21 saves. Paul Stastny (St. Louis, Mo./Colorado Avalanche/Univ. of Denver) and Faulk each had three assists.
Courtesy of USA Hockey