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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bashers Grab the Glory as U.S. Defeats Russia


NEW YORK -- On a holiday evening in September, amid the pennant races and the football openers, New York sizzled with American hockey.

The Russians were in town, perhaps not the behemoths they once were as the Soviet Union, but nevertheless a force in international hockey. It wasn't to be their night, however.

Recapturing nuggets of a 16-year-old Lake Placid memory, Team USA defeated Team Russia, 5-2, Monday night in the World Cup tournament as Madison Square Garden resonated with chants of "USA! USA!''

The victory on the heels of a historic win over Canada on Saturday placed the United States (2-0) first out of the preliminary round in the North American pool. Canada (2-1) finished second and Russia (1-2) third, thus eliminating Slovakia (0-2).

Team USA, which receives a second-round bye, will play the winner of Friday's Finland-Russia game in the third round Sunday at Ottawa's Corel Centre. In the European pool, Sweden has a bye into the semifinal round. Germany plays Canada in the quarterfinals Thursday and the winner meets Sweden Saturday.

Team USA grinders grabbed much of the glory. Hulking Colorado Avalanche left winger Adam Deadmarsh scored, as did Philadelphia Flyer's Legion of Doomer John LeClair, the Edmonton Oilers' Doug Weight and Phoenix Coyotes star Keith Tkachuk. Pat LaFontaine, who has been nursing a sore groin, skated well and scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 9:32 of the second period for a 4-0 lead that stung goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and the already stunned Russians.

Sergei Fedorov? Alexander Mogilny? Alexei Kovalev? None of them made a dent.

Relentless forechecking and heavy body work by the Americans kept the fluid Russians from gaining a rhythm and the U.S. penalty killers kept the dangerous Russian power play from becoming a threat.

At the other end, Mike Modano put on a passing display with two assists and Brett Hull was equally spirited, assisting from behind the net on Weight's goal.

It took Oleg Tverdovsky's backhand at 12:33 of the second to finally solve Rangers goaltender Mike Richter, who received the loudest cheers.

Khabibulin was replaced by Sabres goalie Andrei Trefilov in the third, during which the only goal was scored by Andrei Kovalenko with 27.2 seconds remaining.

"You have to play smart against Russia. You can't go out and be stupid because as soon as you do, you're down 3-0,'' Hull said recently.

Team USA was anything but that. Deadmarsh scored 26 seconds into the game on a gorgeous three-on-two break that left defenseman Sergei Gonchar high in the slot. LeClair stuffed in a rebound at 7:08 after Vladimir Malakhov ushered LaFontaine to the crease.

In the second period, Tkachuk batted in a Bill Guerin shot that caromed off the crossbar for a 3-0 advantage at 4:46. Then, with Team USA a man short, Chris Chelios fed LaFontaine up ice and he burned Malakhov again, for his first goal of the tournament.

Richter added after the game, "We played three very solid periods ... but we have to continue to improve and be at our best when the playoffs come. We kept the quality scoring chances down and when you do that to a team like Russia, you have to do an awful lot right."

The Anaheim Mighty Ducks' Guy Hebert will start in goal for the American's final game against already-eliminated Team Slovakia at the Garden. ()