U.S. thumps Slovakia, Russia survives Slovenian scare

U.S. forward David Backes in front of Slovakia goalie Jaroslav Halak during their men's hockey...

U.S. forward David Backes in front of Slovakia goalie Jaroslav Halak during their men's hockey round-robin game at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 13, 2014. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

The U.S. men's hockey team has made an early statement at the Sochi Games.

So has the Russian squad -- but theirs ended with a question mark, not an exclamation point.

While the American team thumped a solid Slovakian team 7-1, Russia struggled at times against Slovenia but beat the weak squad 5-2.

The Americans were led by Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had a goal and two assists. John Carlson, Ryan Kesler and Paul Stastny had two points apiece. Jonathan Quick made 22 saves, surrendering just one goal, to Slovakia's Tomas Tatar of the Detroit Red Wings.

Slovenia kept things interesting against Russia, with the heavily favoured home squad holding a narrow 3-2 lead late in the second period. But the Russians eventually pulled away for a 5-2 finish.

Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins had a goal and two assists for Russia.

Earlier Thursday, Finland hammered Austria 8-4. Austrian NHLer Michael Grabner had a hat trick in the losing effort.

Mikael Granlund had a pair of goals for Finland, who many believe may have the tournament's best goaltending -- but certainly not in this game.

Austria put four goals past Boston Bruins star Tuukka Rask on just 20 shots. The Finns fired 52 shots at Austrian netminder Bernhard Starkbaum.


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