Team USA can’t handle Slovakia, opens door for first place

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After knocking off Canada in overtime, Team USA was in the driver’s seat to finish high atop Group H at Worlds. Slovakia wasn’t about to hear any of that as they surprised and upended the USA 4-2.

Slovakia used a monster first period effort to make sure Team USA spent the rest of the game trying to catch up scoring three times and leading 3-1 after one. Dominik Granak, Branko Radivojeviic, and Andrej Sekera tallied while goalie Jan Laco turned aside just 18 shots to get the win.

For Team USA, it was a blown opportunity to take control of Group H and they’ve now allowed Canada, Slovakia, and host Finland back into the race for first. Jimmy Howard was under siege in the game having to make 28 saves to keep Team USA in the mix. Meanwhile, Paul Stastny and Justin Faulk scored their only goals.

Coach Scott Gordon said it was just one of those games.

“I thought they won the game in the first period” said Scott Gordon, head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. “We got better as the game wore on and battled. We get a couple of days rest and need be ready to go on Thursday.”

 Team USA will gear up to face Belarus on Thursday. You can see the game live at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Icy stare: Check out the photo of Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty shaking hands after the game. Yikes.