Butler & Team USA hand Team Belarus a 5-3 loss
EDITORS NOTE: Chris Butler played 17:29, putting one shot on net.
HELSINKI, FINLAND -- Despite losing an early 2-0 lead, five scorers contributed goals this afternoon at Hartwall Arena to give the U.S. a 5-3 win over Belarus. Justin Abdelkader had a goal and assist while Max Pacioretty had two assists.
"We've got a lot of work to do," said Pacioretty after. "We haven’t really put together a full game like we want. Once we do, we’ll be a very powerful team. We need to find a way to play for 60 minutes, and we’ll find success."
The win vaults the U.S. into third place of Group A with a 3-0-0-2 record for eight points. Belarus remains in sixth with three points and a record of 1-0-0-3.
"Once again, we didn’t get a good start to the game," said Vladimir Denisov of Belarus. "I don’t know why. The seecond period was better. We woke up and started to play our game, disciplined hockey. In the third, we had a couple of long shifts, and they scored a couple of goals. The game was done."
The Americans got off to just the start they needed to diminish the Belarusian spirit. Abdelkader scored just 1:39 into the game from in close, and then five minutes later Cam Atkinson scored on a wrist shot in the slot while being covered by two defencemen.
Belarus coach Kari Heikkila changed goalies soon after, removing Andrei Mezin and inserting backup Vitali Koval, who played the rest of the game.
The Belarussians got back into the game late in the period when Alexei Kalyuzhny made a great deflection halfway down the shaft of his stick off a Dmitri Korobov point shot to beat Jimmy Howard in goal.
The Americans ran into a bit of penalty trouble, starting with a minor and misconduct to defenceman Jack Johnson at the end of the first for checking to the head and neck area. Early in the second Kyle Palmieri took an unnecessary goalie interference penalty, and Belarus capitalized.
Mikhail Grabovski passed the puck down low to Yevgeni Kovyrshin, and his shot was stopped by Howard. Alexei Ugarov got the rebound and swiped it in to tie the game, 2-2.
Teams had plenty of scoring chances the rest of the period, notably Kalyuzhny who stripped Cam Fowler of the puck at the U.S. blue line and went in alone short-handed. Howard made a fine save.
At the other end, Koval made a nice save on an in-close chance from J.T. Brown. The only other goal of the period came late, on a lucky play. Nate Thompson came around the Belarus net and fired the puck in front. It went off the skate of Kovyrshin and past a surprised Koval to give the U.S. a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Bobby Ryan added an insurance goal midway through the third when he tipped a Cam Fowler point shot through Koval's pads. Paul Stastny then added a final tally to close out the scoring for the victors.
Belarus added a last-minute goal during a five-on-three when Kovyrshin banged home a rebound from in close.
"Penalties cost us a bit," said Fowler. "Some of them weren’t necessary. It’s up to us to kill them, but they kill the momentum a little bit. All in all, when we played five on five, we were able to carry some momentum. We just have to make sure we stay disciplined."
Courtesy of the IIHF