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Second-period goals lift Belarus to 5-2 win

by Staff / Winnipeg Jets

Author: John Sanful

Previously, the United States won all five games these teams met over the last 15 years.

Three goals in the second period put the game out of reach for the Americans. Kevin Lalande was once again stellar in goal. Belarus has won three of its four games at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

"We just let them have too much possession," said Jack Eichel. "We had a couple of mishaps in the offensive zone that led to them getting odd-man breaks and they took advantage of that."

Team USA came out firing shots on Lalande in looking to establish an early lead. They outshot Belarus 13-7 in the period but Lalande held firm and none would get through.

Matt Hendricks and Ben Smith got three shots apiece in the period. Smith’s shots came on one sequence where he had three cracks at the puck but couldn’t convert.

Time of possession over the first frame was largely spent in the Belarusian end of the ice. Belarus would find its game and put some pressure on Jack Campbell, making his second straight start for Team USA. One of its best chances came when Andrei Kostitsyn rifled a shot after picking up a rebound off a pad save but Campbell was there to snare the shot.

In the second, Jimmy Vesey came close to scoring when he went in on a break but his shot was stopped. Mike Reilly also had a chance when the Americans were on a power play but his shot rang off the low post.

Belarus used counterattacks and American mistakes to score three goals in five minutes.

It started when Belarus turned aside an American attack and went back the other way to score its first goal of the game at 11:11. Team USA's scoring chance was blocked off in front of the Belarus net. Artur Gavrus raced the other way into the opposing zone with the puck shooting it high stick side over Campbell.

Just under two minutes later, Artyom Volkov took a bank pass off the boards from Sergei Kostitsyn and was off to the races. Volkov's goal made it 2-0.

At 13:55 Alexander Kitarov was whistled off for tripping. It was the third American power play opportunity they failed to convert. When the penalty was over, Kitarov left the box and picked up the puck that coincidentally was near the sin bin. He took it and drove to the net. His first shot was stopped but the rebound was not.

Team USA received some measure of hope when Brock Nelson scored off a beautiful precision pass from Jack Eichel. Eichel gained possession of the puck at the Belarus blue line and drove to the net. As the defence keyed in on Eichel, Nelson was also heading towards the goal. Eichel’s pass was on the tape leaving Nelson only to have to bang it home.

Near the end of the period Eichel stickhandled through several Belarus players and towards the net but could not tee up a shot. For those who have not seen the Boston University product it was their first glimpse as to what all the talk this season has been about.

Alexei Kalyuzhny and Torey Krug traded goals in the third period keeping it a two goal game. Krug’s goal was the first time the Americans were able to score on the power play.

With the score 4-2, Kalyuzhny would add a second that put the game away for good and give Belarus a three goal lead.

Team USA was hoping to extend their win streak to four which would have been the first time since 1939 when they won four straight games en route to a silver medal that year in Basel and Zurich, Switzerland.

"It's a let down after the Russia game," Eichel said of the loss. "That was an emotional win but every game means a lot so this is a tough one to take."

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