Gaudreau claims U.S. scoring record
by Andy POTTS|19 MAY 2024
Johnny Gaudreau scores his record-breaking goal against Kazakhstan, moving him to 43 points in World Championship play for Team USA. That takes him past Patrick Kane's 42-point haul.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Matt Zambonin
Johnny Gaudreau rewrote USA hockey history as he moved to 43 points in IIHF World Championship play. That lifts him clear of Patrick Kane in his country's all-time scoring chart. In addition, his 30 assists represent another all-time record, one ahead of Kane's mark.

He came into Sunday's game with 38 career points, four behind Kane's all-time tally. A quartet of helpers put him level, then midway through the third period he scored America’s 10th goal on Kazakhstan to claim the national record.

"It’s cool. I just found out right after the game," Gaudreau said. "It’s really special, I’m very honoured to be able to play for the USA. Any time I get a chance to come over here it’s a true honour. I owe a lot of thanks to my teammates."

The big moment came after 50 minutes. Kazakhstan lost possession and the Americans came right back down the ice with a two-on-one rush. Matt Boldy unselfishly set up his team-mate and his finish on Anton Shutov clinched the record.

That wasn’t the only milestone in Sunday’s crushing 10-1 win over Kazakhstan. Brock Nelson tied a 75-year-old record, potting his 19th World Championship goal for Team USA. Nelson shares top spot with Bruce Mather, who blasted 19 goals in the 1949 championship. Buzz Johnson also got to 19 goals for his country in the 1950s.

Nelson’s goal, tucking away the rebound from a Matt Boldy shot, was one of several highlights in a dominant American performance. Brady Tkachuk claimed a hat-trick and Boldy enjoyed a six-point game. At the other end of the experience scale, World Junior champion Gavin Brindley scored his first goal for the senior national team.

Like Gaudreau, Nelson made his senior World Championship debut in 2014 and has returned often to the international stage. In an era when not every player has been quick to answer the call at the end of a long season, he has no doubt of the World Championship's value.

"It's an important tournament," he said. "It just maybe doesn't get the same hype back home. But we still get good enough guys coming over here and we want to win a gold medal. We have a lot of pride, there's no denyin that, and everyone who comes here wants to win. 

"We've only won it once and that was back in the 1930s so we'd like to add to that. We care deeply about our hockey."

A tough game for the Kazakhs saw Boldy open the scoring in the fifth minute, potting the rebound after Nelson hit the post. The first power play lasted just eight seconds before Tkachuk found the net. Then came Nelson’s record-equalling goal and another superfast PP marker from Tkachuk to make it 4-0 at the first intermission.

Kazakhstan was struggling to cope with the pace and precision of the U.S. offence. Goaltender Nikita Boyarkin faced 20 shots in the first period as the Americans burnished their reputation as the tournament’s shot leaders (230 efforts on goal ahead of today’s action). The Nomad Astana man, who helped his club win the Continental Cup earlier this year, produced a brave effort but was often exposed by his defence.

The middle frame continued in similar vein. Brindley’s big moment came on 21:39 on a rare misjudgement from Boyarkin. He dropped Matt Kessel’s shot, lost track of the puck and saw the young winger nip in to score. Then came a third power play goal, and a third assist for Gaudreau as Boldy got his second goal. Boyarkin did a great job to get his glove behind the shot, but a video review showed that his hand was behind the line. Midway through the session, Luke Kunin added a seventh as the USA entered cruise control.

Kazakhstan switched goalies at the start of the third period with Boyarkin getting a well-deserved break after facing 45 shots through 40 minutes. But there was no respite from the American attack. Gaudreau’s fourth helper of the game saw Tkachuk complete his hat-trick and move clear in tournament scoring with 11 points. Twenty seconds later, Kevin Hayes made it 9-0.

There was little sign of the Kazakh offence, although American goalie Alexander Nedeljkovic made a smart save to deny Nikita Mikhailis early in the third. But the biggest cheer of the afternoon in Ostrava came when Alikhan Omirbekov grabbed a consolation goal in the 47th minute. He applied a neat tip to Artyom Korolyov’s shot to deny Nedeljkovic a shut-out.

"This U.S. team is very fast, very physical, very big," said Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Breus. "Learning to play against them, studying what they do, is very important for my development, and for our nation's development.

"I'm trying to only learn good things from games like this."

Gaudreau had the final word with his historic goal, putting the seal on a victory that has Team USA close to confirming its quarter-final spot. For Kazakhstan, meanwhile, the tournament will come down to a survival showdown against Poland on Monday.