US, Canada, Russia finish hockey prelims with wins
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — While the United States and Canada finished up preliminary-round play without a defeat Sunday, Russia survived a bit more drama to keep on rolling in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament.
The U.S. beat Slovenia 5-1 to finish group play with three victories and the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals. The Americans were arguably the most impressive team in the preliminary round, and Phil Kessel had a hat trick in their latest win.
Canada also won three times in the prelims, but had to go to overtime against Finland for a 2-1 victory on Drew Doughty’s second goal of the night.
Russia went to a shootout for the second straight night after losing to the Americans in the preliminary round’s best game, and the home fans were more pleased by the second result.
Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov scored on surprising Slovak goalie Jan Laco, giving a 1-0 victory to the Russians on a shutout by Semyon Varlamov.
The field is set for the elimination portion of the tournament after Sunday’s games. Sweden is the No. 1 seed with three regulation victories, dominating its bracket despite the absence of injured stars Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen.
Canada could have taken the No. 1 seed, but lost a standings point for going to overtime against the feisty Finns, who finished fourth overall to earn the final bye into the quarterfinals. The Canadians slipped into third, one spot behind the Americans.
Austria earned its first Olympic victory in 12 years in Sunday’s early game, beating winless Norway 3-1.
The top four teams get an extra day off this week, while Russia leads the remaining eight teams into the qualification round on Tuesday. The hosts will face Norway for the chance to play Finland in the quarterfinals.