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Kazakhstan vs. United States

NHL.com @NHL

Coming off a tie in its opener against one lightly regarded opponent, the United States will try to bounce back from a lackluster effort when its faces another lesser Olympic foe in Kazakhstan.

Defenseman Jordan Leopold of the Calgary Flames beat former NHL netminder Arturs Irbe 2:01 into the third period to lift the U.S. into a 3-3 tie with Latvia.

Weather and timing may have been factors in the Americans' sub-par effort. The NHL played its last games Sunday before shutting down for the Olympics and a winter snowstorm that dumped up more than two feet of parts of the eastern United States closed many major airports.

Only two players - Leopold and goaltender John Grahame of the Tampa Bay Lightning - were in Turin on Monday.

"A lot of guys just got off the flight (Tuesday). There's no excuses but that's the reality," said Grahame, who finished with 23 saves.

The U.S. jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period on goals 54 seconds apart by Brian Gionta of the New Jersey Devils and Craig Conroy of the Los Angeles Kings.

Sandis Ozolinsh of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks - cleared to play in the Olympics earlier in the week after completing a a six-week stay in the NHL's substance abuse program - assisted on two goals in a 40-second span late in the second period for Latvia.

Leopold hadn't scored a goal in 57 games with the Flames this season before his game-winner.

The Americans' top line of Keith Tkachuk of the St. Louis Blues, Mike Modano of the Dallas Stars and the Devils' Scott Gomez was held in check.

Tkachuk and Modano, both among the offensive leaders of their respective teams, were held off the scoresheet. Gomez, who notched an assist, leads the Devils in assists (34), power-play assists (18) and is second on the team, behind Gionta, with 54 points.

U.S. head coach Peter Laviolette of the Eastern Conference-leading Carolina Hurricanes may go with either Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders or Robert Esche of the Philadelphia Flyers in goal for this game.

DiPietro went 4-1-1 with a 3.09 goals-against average in his last six games before the break. Esche was pulled after allowing two goals in the first 14 minutes of play Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Both are first-time Olympians.

Kazakhstan was overmatched in its first game Wednesday, allowing three first-period goals en route to a 7-2 loss to Sweden.

Yevgeniv Koreshkiv and Vladimir Antipin scored, and former New York Rangers draft pick Vitaly Yeremeyev finished with 27 saves.

Kazakhstan was outscored 25-6 during round-robin play in its debut at the 1998 Nagano Games before losing to Canada in the quarterfinals.

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