Justin Abdelkader and Max Pacioretty recorded two points each, while Oilers defenceman Jeff Petry chipped in with an assist as the United States bounced Belarus by a 5-3 score at the Hartwall Arena.
With the win, the US moves into third place in the Helsinki Group with eight points, behind Canada (10 points) and Finland (nine).
Abdelkader got the ball rolling early, scoring at 1:39 on the Americans' second shot -- an in-tight opportunity that easily solved netminder Andrei Mezin. Petry was credited with an assist, doubling his tournament-long total to two points in four games.
Petry also racked up two penalty minutes (a relatively inconsequential hooking minor late in the game), two shots on goal and a +2 rating in 15:52 of ice time.
Mezin's struggles continued at 6:31 when Abdelkader picked up his second point of the night, feeding Cam Atkinson in the slot; while he was hounded by coverage, the pivot's weak snapshot escaped the keeper's grasp, putting the US up 2-0.
Belarusian Head Coach Karl Heikkila had seen enough, replacing Mezin with backup Vitali Koval between the pipes. And it appeared to spark his club, as a late-period goal by Alexei Kalyuzhny sliced the Americans' lead in half.
Exactly one minute into the second period, US winger Kyle Palmeiri was charged with goaltender interference, putting Belarus' power-play to work in search of the equalizer. With 10 seconds left in the advantage, Alexei Ugarov scooped up a Yevgeni Kovyrshin rebound at the doorstep, sliding it past Jimmy Howard to tie it up at the 2:50 mark.
Howard, 28, made 23 saves on his opponents' 26 three-period attempts.
The US' two-goal advantage was restored late in the period when a lucky bounce put them back ahead. With only 1:39 to play, Nate Thompson's cheeky wraparound try caught Kovyrshin's skate en route, bouncing in past Koval and putting the Americans up for good.
12:10 into the third, Cam Fowler unloaded a wicked point shot that was redirected past Koval by his Anaheim Ducks teammate, Bobby Ryan, to make it a 4-2 game.
Paul Stastny then added an insurance marker, settling the Americans' nerves as a three-goal lead with 4:26 to play. Belarus' Kovyrshin potted his squad's third goal of the night -- during a 5-on-3 when Petry (hooking) and Jack Johnson (delay of game) were serving minors taken 1:21 apart -- but it came with only 10 seconds on the clock as the US closed out a 5-3 win.
Petry's Americans get back to work Friday morning at 7:15am MT vs. Kazakhstan.
CZECH REPUBLIC 3 vs. LATVIA 1
Latvia gave them all they could handle, but in the end it the result everyone expected. Third-period goals by Petr Nedved and an insurance marker by Tomas Plekanec on the power-play propelled the Czech Republic to a 3-1 win over Latvia.
Oilers winger Ales Hemsky was held pointless, but he recorded three shots on goal, an even rating and two penalty minutes in 16:58 of ice time.
Czech goaltender Jakub Kovar was sensational in the opening period, stopping 11 shots and getting a little help from his posts in maintaining a scoreless game. Latvia's Kaspars Daugavins (Ottawa Senators) pounced on a point shot rebound, but his open-net try caught Kovar's blocker-side iron to keep it 0-0.
Kovar was sound all night, answering 25 of the Latvians' 26 attempts. He was also named as the Czechs' Player of the Game.
Hemsky got his club's best chance early in the second, slaloming into the slot and snapping a wrist shot on goal. The partially screened Latvian netminder, Edgars Masalskis, kicked out his right leg in turning the shot aside.
That opportunity proved pivotal as Latvia struck moments later. At 3:55, Ronalds Kenins wheeled from the corner and centered a pass to a streaking Armands Berzins at the doorstep; he didn't get all of it, but the flubbed shot fooled Kovar as the puck dribbled across the line to make it 1-0.
That was Latvia's only lead (and only goal) of the night, as their attack went silent in the remaining 46 minutes.
At 8:58, the Czechs tied it up. Milan Michalek initiated a dangerous looking rush in the neutral zone, bursting in and setting a partial 3-on-2. The puck was dished on the near side to Jakub Nakladal, who delivered a backhand pass to the middle where he'd hoped Tomas Plekanec would connect with it. While he wasn't able to, Masalskis got a piece of it with his pad in an attempt to drive it to the corner.
Instead, Michalek put a button on what he'd started, backhanding the opportune rebound past the goalie to make it a 2-1 game.
A bench minor for too many men and a high-sticking penalty to Hemsky gave the Latvians a pair of late-period power-play opportunities, but both were killed.
Ageless ex-Oiler Petr Nedved broke the stalemate 10:50 into the third. The 40-year-old accepted a long stretch pass, busted through the check of Kristaps Stonieks and scooted in alone. With a nifty, right-to-left move that opened up the 'tender, Nedved deposited the puck with a quick shot on his forehand.
Stonieks was victimized again moments later, losing a one-on-one battle to Plekanec as the Czechs added some insurance with a power-play goal at 13:22.
As such, the Czechs cruised to the horn and a 3-1 win -- their second regulation-time victory of the tournament, giving them nine points in four games.
They get back in action Friday morning vs. Italy. Puck drop is at 7:15am MT.
ROUND ROBIN SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times mountain) Friday, May 4: