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U.S., Canada end hockey prelims with wins

Phil Kessel scores one of his three goals past Slovenian goalie Luka Gracnar in a 5-1 win to end the preliminary round.

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Phil Kessel scores one of his three goals past Slovenian goalie Luka Gracnar in a 5-1 win to end the preliminary round.

SOCHI, Russia — Phil Kessel is the first American in more than a decade to score a hat trick in an Olympic hockey tournament.

And few people were as happy for him Sunday as teammate T.J. Oshie.

The Maple Leafs' Kessel scored two of his three goals in the opening five minutes to lead the United States to a 5-1 win against Slovenia in their final preliminary-round game.

"I was saying right before the game, I hope somebody does something pretty cool, so that some of the focus gets off of me and onto someone else," said the Blues' Oshie, who scored on four of six attempts in an eight-round shootout Saturday against Russia to give the Americans an emotional win.

Kessel had the first U.S. Olympic hat trick since John LeClair on Feb. 15, 2002, against Finland. Kessel and his teammates earned one of the four automatic spots in the quarterfinals of the 12-team tournament by finishing atop their group with a 3-0 record.

Slovenia's Marcel Rodman scored with 17.6 seconds left in the game, denying U.S. goalie Ryan Miller a shutout. The Sabres' Miller, the MVP of the 2010 tournament, made 17 saves in his Sochi debut. "Yeah, I definitely had some nerves," he said. "It was an important game to ensure that we're at the top of our pool."

The United States on Wednesday faces the winner of the Czech Republic's elimination game against Slovakia for a spot in the semifinals. (schedule, 7C)

Canada escapes: With four goals in the tournament, Canada and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has single-handedly outscored Slovakia (2), Norway (3) and Switzerland (2). Doughty scored both of Canada's goals in a 2-1 overtime victory over Finland that gave the Canadians the No. 3 seed in the elimination round and a bye into the quarterfinals. They face the winner of Tuesday's Switzerland-Latvia elimination game. "I don't know what's going on," said Doughty, who has four goals in three Olympic games and eight in 59 NHL games this season. The Lightning's Marty St. Louis was a healthy scratch for Canada, as was Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. Tampa Bay defenseman Sami Salo had two shots and was even in 14:47 of playing time for Finland.

Russian deja vu: The Russians were back in another shootout after an unknown Slovak goalie blanked their powerful offense for 65 minutes. But this one turned out differently from its one the previous day against the United States. Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov scored in the shootout, Slovakia didn't and Russia won 1-0. Richard Panik of Lightning affiliate AHL Syracuse had no shots in 10:08 for Slovakia. With one win, one overtime win and one overtime loss in the preliminary round, Russia failed to earn an automatic quarterfinal berth. It must play an elimination game against winless Norway on Tuesday.

U.S., Canada end hockey prelims with wins 02/16/14 [Last modified: Sunday, February 16, 2014 11:06pm]

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