SOCHI, Russia -- Phil Kessel scored two of his three goals in the
opening 4:33 and became the first U.S. player with an Olympic hat trick in more
than a decade, leading the Americans to a 5-1 win over Slovenia on Sunday.
Kessel scored 1:04 after the puck dropped, showing that the Americans didn't have a hangover after their emotionally charged shootout win over Russia on Saturday. His third goal midway through the second period made him the first U.S. player to have a hat trick at the Olympics since John LeClair did it on Feb. 15, 2002, against Finland.
Ryan Miller was 17.6 seconds away from a shutout, but Marcel Rodman scored. Miller made 17 saves in his Sochi Games debut.
The 2010 silver-medal winner had plenty of support at the other end of the rink.
Ryan McDonagh scored about a minute
after Kessel's third goal to put the
Americans up 4-0 in the second period and David Backes gave them a five-goal
cushion early in the third.
Slovenia (1-2) will play in the qualification-playoff round Tuesday.
Even if it doesn't win another game, it has been a successful appearance for the country that earned a surprising spot in the Olympic hockey tournament for the first time.
Slovenia, whose only NHL player is Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, stunned Slovakia on Saturday.
But it was clear early on that Slovenia had no shot to beat a team that seems to be peaking at the right time.
It didn't help Slovenia that it was without a key player. Forward Sabahudin Kovacevic was suspended for one game for swinging his left elbow and landing it on the head of Slovakia's Tomas Kopecky.
Luka Gracnar made 23 saves for Slovenia.