Former Red Wing Jan Mursak, the only Slovene with any National Hockey League experience, provided huge leadership and two goals, one to tie the game with just 1:17 remaining in the third period and another to win it 38 seconds into overtime.
USA's Bobby Sanguinetti reacts after Jan Mursak of Slovenia scored the tying goal in the third period during preliminary round game at the Winter Olympics on February 14, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. Although the United States made the first offensive thrust, a quick reversal of the puck by Slovenia allowed Mursak to fly down the left wing, and his goal only 38 seconds into the extra period sent the Americans to bed grumpy.
Jordan Greenway would add to that lead in the second period, a 2-0 tally 13 minutes into the middle frame after the United States worked hard around the Slovenia net to cash in. After the US reached double-digits in number of shots taken, Brian O'Neill, a 29-year-old who plays in Finland, scored first for Team USA with just more than two minutes left in the first period.
Russian Federation will next play Slovenia on Friday, while Slovakia takes on the United States on the same day.
BC-OLY-HKO-Russia-Slovakia, 1st Ld-Writethru, 514Russian gold-medal favorites lose opening game to SlovakiaAP Photo OLYMH129, OLYMH128, OLYMH119, OLYMH117, OLYMH111, OLYMH120Eds: Updates with more detail, quotes.
The Americans were unable to close out Slovenia with any sense of urgency in the third period, which was ultimately their undoing as their opponents stormed back into the game. With that tally the Americans looked like they were in control of the game, but had to hold off an incoming Slovenia rush to end it.
The U.S. doubled up Slovenia in shots after two but couldn't pull away and increase its margin of error. Brian O'Neill and Bobby Sanguinetti were credited with the assists on Greenway's goal. Using Rob Vollman's NHL equivalencies, which help translate stats from one league to another, we can expect this squad to score 219 goals per 82 games at the NHL level, on par with the 2017-18 Ottawa Senators (19-26-9, 47 points and seventh out of eight teams in the Atlantic Division).
Team USA lost its Olympic opener in overtime, 3-2, to Slovenia on Wendesday. "We need to be our best and play our best".
The Americans didn't come out with any spark in the third period. He scored one goal in 19 games.
The US struck first late in the opening period when Garrett Roe kept a loose puck in the Slovenian zone, carried it behind the net and fed Brian O'Neill who was streaking into the slot. Granato said fatigue and the hype of the game might have been a little too much for some of his players.