Team USA defeated Kazakhstan 4-3 on the strength of two power play goals and an overtime winner by Seth Jones.
Team USA was able to fend off a determined Kazakhstan team in overtime, 4-3. Two goals by Seth Jones on the day catalyzed the Americans.
"That was a huge game in every way," said Matt Donovan, who scored the third American goal. "We really needed that one. We need to keep working and get better every game, especially as we near the end of this round."
This was a big win for the Americans after two difficult losses to Russia and Latvia. As standings behind Russia in Group B is getting crowded, the win helps the United States in their effort to advance into the playoff round.
"We definitely wanted to win this," said Jones. "We didn't want it to be as close as it was, to be honest, but we are happy to get the points."
In the first period, Team USA took four minor penalties inside of fourteen minutes, keeping Kazakhstan with the man advantage. With the first penalty - a tripping call on Brock Nelson - Kazakhstan hovered around the net but was unable to generate much offence.
On the second power play, Kazakhstan was able to get a glorious chance as Roman Starchenko’s shot rang off the post.
But it wasn’t until Andy Miele was called for a hooking penalty that Kazakhstan finally converted. Starchenko scored after all the effort he’d put in. Dmitri Upper sent a pass to Starchenko who potted it into the back of the net.
Craig Smith scored to level the game at 18:38 as Alexei Litvinenko was serving a holding penalty. Smith has shown the form he held last year at the World Championships as the team’s leading scorer.
Konstantin Romanov scored 1:21 into the second with Connor Murphy as a screen. Tim Thomas, making his fifth straight start in the tournament, had no time to react as the shot went stick side.
Peter Mueller sent a shot on net that hit the post when again Team USA was on the power play. On the same power play Seth Jones rocketed a slapshot from the point that Alexei Ivanov saw sail by.
"The whole tournament, it's been special teams battles," Jones said. "They don't seem to be letting off the whistle, really. So you are either taking five penalties or getting five power plays in a period. We just got to do a better job staying out of the box, keeping our sticks down, playing a little more with our feet."
Jones has turned up his play considerably. With a goal and two assists yesterday and two goals and assist today, Jones has six points in 24 hours.
"He's playing unbelievable hockey," said Johnny Gaudreau. "Having played with him before representing Team USA, he's a great player and even better person."
Kazakhstan was able to get composed and had a charge with about eight minutes remaining in the second. But instead of going up one, they were down a goal when Donovan scored off a one timer of a beautiful, extra effort pass from Gaudreau. Gaudreau broke in between two defencemen and was taken down. While on his stomach, he managed to get off a pass to Donovan.
"I got a little back check in the neutral zone and got tripped up but able to dish over the side," said Gaudreau. "Donovan was there and let a good shot go. There might have been a screen on the goalie."
Team USA dominated the period, outshooting Kazakhstan 18-3.
Kazakhstan resumed their form from the first period, taking the attack to the Americans. Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev moved in with a chance that Tim Thomas blocked away. Mikhail Panshin also tried to score but Thomas showed good position in staying with the puck.
"They picked it up in the third after being on their heels in the second after taking so many penalties," said Donovan. "I thought we handled it pretty well."
Roman Starchenko’s second of the game came at the right time fir his team to tie the game at two and sent it into overtime.
In overtime, Jones was able to get off a slapshot that was stopped by Ivanov. The USA kept the pressure in the Kazakh end until Jones with another opportunity wins it with a rifle of a wrist shot at 3:55.