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Americans take over top spot in group with win on Saturday at World Championships

by Peter Pupello / Tampa Bay Lightning

Two days off did not seem to affect Team USA Saturday, as it rolled to a 4-2 victory over France to claim the top spot in Group H of the 2013 IIHF World Championships.

Ten different players collected points, including David Moss, Paul Stastny, Bobby Butler and Stephen Gionta who each had goals, while Lightning netminder Ben Bishop made 13 saves for the USA.

Bolts forward Nate Thompson did not mark the score sheet, but was solid in the faceoff circle, winning 14 of 22 draws. Thompson also had a shot on goal and registered a plus-1 rating, while Lightning teammate and Team USA defenseman Matt Carle recorded an assist and also earned a plus-1 rating.

While Team USA couldn’t convert on their two power plays in the first 6:45 of the game, Vincent Bachet had just skated from the penalty box to the bench when Tim Stapleton got the puck on the blueline. He sent a wrist shot towards the French net, and Stephen Gionta deflected it to the back of the net, stunning Cristobal Huet in France’s goal. 

Bishop made only three saves in the first period, and the first one close to the halfway mark of the period, but he did demonstrate his stickhandling at the six-minute mark when he fooled a French forechecker with a crafty backhand pass.

With 2:43 remaining in the first period, Team USA made it 2-0, after some nifty passing in the French zone, but France got back into the game in the second period, when the Americans took two penalties seven minutes into the action as both Stastny and Erik Johnson took slashing minors just 15 seconds apart.

That’s when France’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare made it a one-goal game, but Stastny’s goal in the third extended Team USA’s lead back to a pair. The sides exchanged another goal each at each end, bringing the score to 4-2 to cap the scoring and cap off the win for the Americans.

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