HALIFAX – The Americans weren’t a happy lot Monday and they took their frustration out on an overmatched Norwegian team.
One day removed from a tough 3-2 loss to Finland, the United States wrapped up its qualifying round schedule by scoring three times in each period for a 9-1 pounding of Norway at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.
New York Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky had a hat trick to lead the U.S. attack.
The Americans responded well from a tough loss to Finland on Sunday where they blew a two-goal third-period lead and watched the first Finnish goal allowed even though it entered the net through the side of the goal mesh.
“We were certainly disappointed. Not only the way the game ended, but more importantly with how we played,” Dubinsky said of the team’s 3-2 loss to the Finns. “But we played this game with an edge. We played this game the way we need to to be successful in this tournament. Right from top to bottom, we worked hard. It just shows what we can do when we do that.”
With the win, the U.S. (3-2) locked up third place in Pool F. The Americans had already earned a quarter-final berth prior to the game, and will take on the loser of Monday’s matchup between Canada and Finland on Wednesday.
Norway (1-4) must hope Latvia loses to Germany in regulation time on Monday night to earn the last quarter-final spot for Group F.
“Now you’re going to get into the guts of the tournament, the elimination games. That’s when you find out about your club,” said U.S. head coach John Tortorella. “I think we have a good team and they’ll be ready to play.”
The Americans dominated the opening 20 minutes against Norway and were rewarded with three goals, including two 63 seconds apart. Dubinsky, with his first of the tournament, opened the scoring at 11:12 as he took a pass from Adam Burish and fired the puck underneath Norwegian netminder Pal Grotnes.
Just over a minute later, Dustin Brown potted his fourth of the tournament as he skated into the slot and drilled a shot glove-side past Grotnes. In the final minute, the U.S. found the back of the net again as Patrick Kane tallied his third of the tournament on the power play. Zach Parise set up the Calder Trophy nominee with a perfect pass across the crease.
Six minutes into the second, Dubinsky scored his second of the game as he made good on a rebound attempt from in close. Norway finally found the scoresheet midway through the period while on a two-man advantage. Defenceman Mats Trygg blasted a bullet shot high over the glove of American goaltender Robert Esche.
The U.S. had struggled to hold leads in its last two games, but wasn’t fazed by the Norway goal as Paul Martin responded with his first of the tournament on a nice individual effort three minutes later. Fifty-nine seconds after that, Patrick O’Sullivan found Parise in front for a power-play marker and a 6-1 U.S. lead.
In the third, Brown notched his second of the game as he came out from behind the Norwegian net a and went five-hole on Grotnes. Three minutes later, Kane set up a highlight reel goal, as the 19-year-old skated out from his own end, deked two Norwegian players before finding Phil Kessel in front with a beautiful backhand pass.
Midway through the third, Dubinsky scored his third of the game as he beat backup netminder Ruben Smith while on a power play. Smith replaced Grotnes shortly after the eighth American goal.
“It’s nice to get some guys confidence with scoring goals, getting points and making plays,” said Kane, who finished with three points.
“It’s going to help our team down the stretch here. But our next game is going to be a lot tougher, so we have to make sure we’re up for it.”
Esche, making his second straight start for the Americans, was solid with 17 saves.
The former Philadelphia Flyers starter, who played this season in the Russian elite league, started the tournament as the third-string option for the U.S. He moved up to No. 1 after Tim Thomas went down to injury last week and backup Craig Anderson struggled as his replacement.
“You have to go with a hot goaltender in a tournament like this, especially with the way its formatted with single elimination games coming up,” Brown said of Esche. “Goalies can steal games for you in this type of tournament and I think he’s been playing really well.”