May 5, 2012

Pacioretty helps Team USA improve to 2-0 at Worlds

By Jesse Connolly

While the NHL playoffs roll on, the IIHF World Championship is underway, with preliminary round action taking place in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm Sweden. 

Habs winger Max Pacioretty (New Canaan, Conn.) leads the U.S. with four points in two tilts. (Getty Images)

The United States improved to 2-0-0 on Saturday, defeating Canada 5-4 in overtime.

Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson – who was traded at this year’s deadline by the Kings, a team a win away from the Western Conference finals – buried his second goal of the game 1:47 into the extra session.

It was a back-and-forth affair between the two neighboring countries, as the two teams traded goals up until the horn sounded at the end of regulation.

Jets center Jim Slater opened the scoring just 1:10, beating Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward to put the United States on top, but John Tavares of the Isles put a shot past Cam Ward with 6:38 gone to knot things up.

In the second period, Carolina forward Jeff Skinner gave Canada their only lead of the contest at the 7:34 mark. The U.S. responded a little more than six minutes later, when Johnson picked up his first goal of the game on the power play to even things up at 2-2.

Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty (New Canaan, Conn.) picked up the primary assist on Johnson’s strike. He now has a team-leading four points for the United States after notching a goal and two assists in a 7-2 win over France in their tournament opener.

Team USA took the lead 6:43 into the third, as Patrick Dwyer beat his Hurricanes teammate, Ward, to make it 3-2. The lead lasted just 3:08 as Jets forward Evander Kane tallied with 10:09 left in regulation to knot things up at three apiece.

With 3:41 to go, former Bruin Nate Thompson buried a shot past Ward to make it 4-3, but Blackhawks blueliner tied things up when his blast from the point beat Jimmy Howard with 1:39 left in regulation.

As the clock wound down, Tavares took an ill-timed penalty at the 19:59 mark, sending the puck over the glass. Canada began overtime shorthanded, setting up Johnson’s winning strike.

Canada (1-1) will take on France on Monday, while the United States will play Zdeno Chara and Slovakia.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.