|Chris Kreider (photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)|
KOSICE, Slovakia – Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass./Boston College) scored what proved to be the game-winning goal on the power play in the second period and seven different U.S. players recorded a point, as the U.S. Men's National Team topped France, 3-2, Saturday in its second qualification-round game at the IIHF World Men's Championship.
"I like the way we used our speed from the start and through about 55 minutes of the game," said Scott Gordon (Easton, Mass.), head coach of Team USA. "When we had that 5-on-3 advantage in the back half of the third period and didn't convert, something changed. They got some life and our guys knew from the start that France is a team that never quits. In the end I'm happy we were able to get the win and an important three points."
France opened the scoring at 5:25 of the first period with the teams playing four-on-four. Sacha Treille skated along the half wall and into the middle and fired a shot that beat U.S. goalie Ty Conklin (University of New Hampshire) on the stick side.
Team USA tied the game with less than four minutes remaining in the period. Playing four-on-four, Blake Wheeler and Derek Stepan rushed into the offensive zone with a 2-n-1opportunity. Wheeler drew the French defender and slipped the puck to Stepan, who fired a wrist shot from the right face-off circle that sailed past Cristobal Huet inside the right post.
The U.S. took a 2-1 lead just 1:16 into the middle frame when Team USA captain Mark Stuart converted on a nice feed from Chris Porter from the left face-off circle.
Just over four minutes later, the U.S. gained a two-goal lead while on the power play. Andy Miele, the 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner who made his Team USA debut, fed the puck from behind the goal line to Huet's left, where Kreider connected for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
With 4:30 remaining in the final frame, France cut its deficit in half when Laurent Meunier beat a screened Conklin while on the power play. The French, however, could not pull closer.
Conklin made 20 saves for Team USA in the win, while Huet stopped 35 shots for France in the loss.
The U.S. Men's National Team will next face Switzerland on Monday in its final qualification-round game. The game will air live on VERSUS.
While the U.S. has not yet clinched a spot in the tournament quarterfinals, it does control its own destiny. With a victory over Switzerland on Monday, the U.S. will advance regardless of the outcome of other games.
NOTES: Team USA went 1-for-9 on the power play, while France was 1-for-8 with the man advantage ... Paul Gaustad was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk (University of New Hampshire) has been added to the U.S. roster.