After what was an emotional night/morning for most American men and women, the selected representatives for Team USA at the 2011 World Men’s Hockey Championship had to go out and play a “game” today verse a Norwegian team riding a high. Norway was coming off a huge upset win over Sweden on Saturday and it was the first time in 61 years that Norway had been able to accomplish this. Meanwhile, Team USA looked strong in their 5-1 opening game win over Austria Saturday, but the news and the surrounding commotion over bin Laden’s death late Sunday night definitely added intrigue to today’s game coming into it.
Norway picked up where they left off and got on the board first against the Americans and their sound defensive game seemed to limit the US of quality scoring chances from the start. Later in the first period on an US power play, the Norwegians were able to capitalize on a shorthanded sequence that saw them grab a 2-0 lead and made many wonder what potential affect the news had on this US team coming into the game. However, in the second period the US picked up the pace and controlled the play for large stretches in the Norwegian zone, but were unable to find the back of the net. One of the best opportunities clanked off the far left post while USA was on the power play late in the second period.
Down two goals heading into the third period, Nick Palmieri was able to get an early goal off a great pass from Chris Kreider streaking down the left wall and get the US team on the board. That goal seemed to do wonders for USA’s confidence, because less than three minutes later Jack Skille tied the game off of a tap in goal provided by a beautiful Tim Stapleton saucer pass. The relatively two quick third period goals seemed to relieve the US players and allowed them to get back to their game and dominate territorially over the Norwegians. Nick Palmieri’s second goal of the game came on the power play and with that go ahead goal, the US never looked back. The final nail in the coffin came courtesy of a Derek Stepan pass and nice Craig Smith redirect for another US power play goal and a final score of 4-2. The American victory over Norway improved their record to 2-0 at the event and guarantees that they’ll finish better than last year’s 13th place.
In net again for USA was Islanders’ goaltender Al Montoya, and once again he wasn’t tested that often facing only 15 shots in the game. Montoya did pick up his second win of the tournament and made some great stops when called upon, but he’ll definitely be tested more in the next game verse Sweden. The Americans outshot Norway 49-15 in the game. Nick Palmieri was selected player of the game, scoring 2 goals on 7 shots and drawing a late third period penalty that resulted in a Craig Smith power play goal. Derek Stepan lead all US players in time on ice with 23:56, while adding an assist and having 7 shots on goal.
According to reports, the US players were asked not speak on the subject of bin Laden’s death and no one seemed to go against those wishes during post game interviews.