Although there were the expected bumps along the way, it was mission accomplished for six of the seven Pittsburgh Penguins competing in the Sochi Olympics.
The United States, Canada and Finland each clinched byes into the quarterfinal round after Sunday’s conclusion to round-robin play. All three squads feature two Penguins apiece, so Russia’s Evgeni Malkin will be the lone Pittsburgh player in action for Tuesday’s qualification round.
Dan Bylsma‘s Team USA finished its three preliminary games undeafeated with a 5-1 win over Slovenia at Shayba Arena (BOX SCORE). Phil Kessel netted a hat trick for the Americans, who accumulated eight points with two regulation victories and their shootout win against Russia on Saturday.
Brooks Orpik earned an assist on Kessel’s second goal early in the first period; he and Paul Martin spent a large portion of their ice time paired up on the USA blue line. Both Pittsburgh teammates were plus-1 while skating about 17 minutes apiece.
The Americans wrapped up Group A with the regulation win, giving them the No. 2 seed in the upcoming knockout stage. Only Sweden, which won all three of its games in 60 minutes, posted more standings points than Team USA.
Malkin was held off the scoresheet for the second straight game, although his bid for a late game-winner rang off the post. He fired five shots, won 11 of 15 faceoffs, and was probably Russia’s most consistent attacker in a robust 24:11 of playing time.
The Russians, who have won only once in regulation, will have to face 12th-seeded Norway at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday. The winner of that match, which will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, will face No. 4 Finland on Wednesday. (View the full bracket here.)
Sidney Crosby earned his second assist of the Olympics when he helped set up Doughty’s power-play tally in the first period, but there wasn’t much offense to be had against the stingy Finns.
Canadian coach Mike Babcock separated Crosby and Chris Kunitz for the first time in this tournament. Kunitz took 13 shifts for 8:21 while Crosby saw the ice 23 times, accumulating 16:23. Both had a single shot on goal.
On the Finnish side, Jussi Jokinen picked up the primary assist on Tuomo Ruutu‘s tying score in the second period; Jokinen has five points (2g, 3a) thus far. Olli Maatta was on the ice for Doughty’s game-winner, but once again the 19-year-old was a regular part of Finland’s defensive rotation.
Finland, the No. 4 seed, is in the same half of the bracket as Scandinavian rival Sweden. On the other side of the draw, the United States will face either Slovakia or the Czech Republic on Wednesday, while Canada gets the winner of Latvia and surprising Switzerland.
Slovenia and Austria will start Tuesday’s qualification round at 3 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, followed by Russia-Norway on the same channel. Latvia and Switzerland take the ice at noon ET on USA Network, while Slovakia and the Czech Republic renew their feud at the same time on NBCSN.
The times for Wednesday’s quarterfinals were also announced by the Olympic committee, with Sweden getting back in action at 3 a.m., Finland taking the ice at 7:30 and the United States and Canada playing their first elimination games simultaneously at noon.