Perfect start for Team USA

"We had a lot information thrown at us the last couple of days but I think we trusted our instincts a lot and it allowed us to play a pretty good system in the big ice," the St. Louis Blues defender said. "There were a couple of things we can clean up, I think but it was a great start to the tournament.

"I think the best part about today is that everyone kind of had a hand in it. You like to see that to start off. A lot of different guys clicking."

And of all the impressive elements to this U.S. win, it was that element -- the ability to strike from anywhere in the lineup -- that should be most rewarding to Bylsma and the coaching staff.

The coach confessed that before the game they talked about the fact that their fourth line of Stastny, Max Pacioretty and T.J. Oshie had a chance to be their most dangerous unit, and they responded exactly that way, combining for two goals and three assists.

"Every time they went over the boards they made something happen," Bylsma said.

The scoring line Thursday featured six goal scorers and 11 Americans with at least a point.

"It's huge. Anybody can pitch in on this team and that's what's important," said Pacioretty, who practiced one day this week with the Patrick Kane-Ryan Kesler duo but was replaced on that line by Dustin Brown, who also scored.

"Obviously, when we play a top team they want to try and shut down guys like Kane and Kessel, but that just opens up opportunities for other guys as well. Hopefully we can use that depth to our advantage."

The Slovaks, meanwhile, were red-faced that they'd fallen in such spectacular fashion, even if they are missing some big names to injury.

"I have to give respect for sure," Tatar said. "Team USA is one of the strongest teams in the tournament for sure. I would say we can play really good; we have a good team and we have to sort out our things.

"I was really surprised. The first period was really tight, then we tied the game, and all of a sudden it was like guys started to be scared to play and nobody wanted the puck. We weren't good in our D zone. It was just too easy, I felt. It wasn't like they scored nice goals, for a long time in our zone, circling on us. It was out of nowhere 3-on-2s, drop passes and shots. I felt it was easy for them to score goals like this."

With the Russians pulling away late in their tournament-opening game against Slovenia a few hundred yards away in the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the Americans' convincing win sets up a fascinating showdown with the Olympic hosts Saturday afternoon.

The winner will almost certainly earn the top spot in their grouping and put themselves in a much stronger position heading into elimination play next week.

"We had to take care of this so I haven't thought tons about it, but we know that this is their home country, they've been getting a lot of attention, they've got a lot of firepower, and there will be no need for motivation on their side," said center David Backes. "We'll need to match that."

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