SOCHI, Russia — With just one game to prepare for its showdown with Russia, the U.S. men's hockey team decided to cram an entire tournament's worth of hard work and highlights into one opener.
Paul Stastny of the Avalanche scored twice during a six-goal barrage in the second period, and the Americans got off to a roaring start with a 7-1 victory over Slovakia on Thursday.
The Canucks' Ryan Kesler, the Blues' David Backes, the Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel and the Kings' Dustin Brown also scored as the United States battered Slovakia for six consecutive goals in 13:51 of the second. The Kings' Jonathan Quick made 22 saves in his Olympic debut.
"For the first time on the big ice for most of us, I thought we did pretty well," said Stastny, a two-time Olympian whose father, Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, played for the Czechoslovakian and Slovak national teams alongside his lengthy NHL career. "Our strengths are our puck possession and our speed, and we were really able to use both of them."
The tournament is being played on Olympic-size ice, which is 200 feet by 100 feet, 15 feet wider than in the NHL.
Canada 3, Norway 1: The Predators' Shea Weber and the Stars' Jamie Benn scored in the second to help defending champion Canada shake off a sluggish start.
"Kind of a bad first period (it ended 0-0)," said the Kings' Drew Doughty, who had the other Canadian goal. "We knew we weren't going to be perfect. But the most important thing is we got better as each period went on, and that's what we were looking for."
The Lightning's Marty St. Louis dressed as the 13th forward — teams can dress 20 players in Olympic games — and played 10:47, had one shot and was plus-1.
Finland 8, Austria 4: Among Finland's scorers was Penguins rookie defenseman Olli Maatta, 19 and in his first Olympics, who was paired with the Lightning's Sami Salo, 39 and in his fourth Games.
"I watched Sami play when I was a child," Maatta told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I can't tell you what that's like being out there with him. Really, I can't."
Salo said Maatta is a special talent. "I don't see the ceiling. I really don't," Salo said. "And you know, it's good for Finnish hockey. It's good for all of us. We've been waiting for someone like him to arrive for a while."
The Finns played the final two periods without the Ducks' Teemu Selanne, out with an upper-body injury.
Russia 5, Slovenia 2: The Penguins' Evegni Malkin had a goal and two assists, and linemate Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals had a goal and an assist as the home team survived a second-period scare from Slovenia, in its first Olympics and which has only one NHL player, Kings forward Anze Kopitar.
Russia finished the first period up 2-0 but the second 3-2.
"We started well, got the lead, and then we stopped playing," Ovechkin said.