The Americans continue to win at the 2018 IIHF World Championships, but it was not as easy against a game Latvian team earlier today. The US won 3-2 in overtime and remained in good position in Group B.
The US got the scoring started when Latvia took a too many men on the ice bench minor at the 10:34 mark. Just over a minute into the ensuing power play – at 11:39, Chris Kreider found the back of the net, beating netminder Elvis Merzlikins. That gave the Americans the early 1-0 lead. Alex Debrincat and Dylan Larkin had the assists there.
Keith KInkaid’s shutout streak was ended at the 17:52 mark of the first period when Uvis Balinskis beat him to tie the game at one apiece. Teodors Blugers and Rihards Bukarts had the assists.
In the second period, Latvia would take a 2-1 lead when the US got into some penalty trouble. Anders Lee was called for interference at the 2:31 mark of the second and at 3:20, Andris Dzerins beat Kinkaid to give Latvia the edge. Miks Indrasis and Roberts Bukarts had the assists.
Team USA now found themselves in the rare position of being behind in this tournament. But it was Colin White at the 17:38 mark who would be johnny on the spot to tie things for the Americans. His goal was assisted by Debrincat and Patrick Kane and had things all even at two.
A scoreless third period meant we were headed for overtime. And it was the power play that would do it again for the Americans. Just 38 seconds into the extra session, Oskars Cibulskis was nabbed for holding the stick and the US power play went to work.
Cam Atkinson would score the game winner from Johnny Gaudreau and Kane at 1:23 into the OT to give the US the win and two points. In a game filled with penalties (14 minutes for the Latvians and 12 for the Americans), it was fitting that the game winner came on the power play.
Kinkaid stopped 17 of 19 shots fired his way while the Latvian goaltender, Merzlikins, had to deal with 30 American shots, stopping 28 of them.
As for the other Devils in the game, Will Butcher was an even plus/minus in 23:19 of ice time over 31 shifts. Blake Coleman had a shot on goal and an even plus/minus in 13:27 of TOI over 20 shifts. Brian Gibbons had an even plus/minus while being used sparingly over 9:38 (14 shifts).
Team USA remains in first place in Group B with 10 points (two wins and two overtime wins) and a 15-6 goal differential. They remain just a point ahead of Finland, who lost to a weak Denmark team recently, but has Canada next.
As for the US, their next game is tomorrow against the last place South Koreans. Korea is looking for its first win of the tournament and has been outscored 29-2. It will be interesting to see if the US allows this to become a game or if they can finish off the Koreans quickly. We will find out tomorrow and will have it right here for you.