Rebounding from Wednesday’s disappointing tie with Latvia, the U.S. men’s Olympic team scored a 4-1 win over Kazakhstan Thursday to raise its preliminary-round record to 1-0-1. The contest was a must-win for the Americans, who have yet to face their toughest competition in preliminary group play.
U.S. goaltender Rick DiPietro (Boston University) made 11 saves in his Olympic debut as the U.S. outshot Kazakhstan, 36-12, including a 17-5 margin in the opening period.
Four different U.S. players — including two former collegians — scored in the game at the Torino Esposizioni, which saw the team open up a 3-0 first-period lead.
“I think we came out much better and much stronger tonight,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “We had more urgency on the puck. We played with a spark that we didn’t have against Latvia.”
Team USA got on the board at 1:34 of the first period when former Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner Chris Drury (Boston University) sent a centering pass to Bill Guerin, who fought off a check and ripped a one-timer into the top left corner of the net.
A pair of former Lake Superior State standouts got the U.S. its next goal. Brian Rolston made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 8:31 when he took a Doug Weight pass at the point, backpedaled to the center of the ice and fired a shot past Kazakhstan goaltender Vitaliy Kolesnik.
Brian Gionta (Boston College) completed the three-goal first for the Americans when he scored his second goal of the young tournament by tipping in a John-Michael Liles (Michigan State) shot for a power-play goal.
After a scoreless second period, Kazakhstan got on the board with a power-play goal at 11:02 of the third. Yevgeniy Koreshkov picked up a pass from Alexey Vassilchenko and deked around DiPietro.
But Team USA responded with a goal less than a minute later as Mike Modano and Erik Cole (Clarkson) teamed up on a give-and-go play, with Modano finishing it off for his first goal of the tournament.
The U.S. returns to action on Saturday, facing off against Slovakia at Torino Esposizioni at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST). The game will be carried live by NBC.