Many thought Slovakia had the potential to play spoiler at the Olympics, but that wasn’t on display today. The Slovaks briefly hung with the U.S. before the Americans broke out in the second period and finished with a 7-1 blowout victory.
“They were flying, and we couldn’t keep up,” Slovak goaltender Peter Budaj said, per the Olympic News Service. “We made some mistakes, especially in the second period, and they made us pay for it.”
Budaj came into the game after Jaroslav Halak allowed five goals in 25 shots, but the change didn’t slow the American offense — Phil Kessel and Dustin Brown scored on the first two shots Budaj faced.
Marian Hossa, who led all Slovak forwards with 18:59 minutes worth of ice time, was at a loss to explain his team’s collapse.
“I don’t know what happened,” Hossa said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus. “All of a sudden, they were all over us. We didn’t play well defensively.”
That being said, Slovakia’s spirits haven’t been crushed. While there’s no denying that this game looked like a mismatch, they remain optimistic going forward.
“I don’t think we will change our system,” Slovak’s lone goal scorer, Tomas Tatar, said. “It’s all about mistakes. We double up a lot in the D-zone. We just can’t play this way. We need to sort these things out.”
Budaj echoed that while throwing his support behind the team’s coaching staff and roster.
“We will just tweak a few things and get better defensively, and I think we will be alright,” Budaj said.
Slovakia will play against Slovenia on Saturday before facing Russia on Sunday.