It's a tough road to the gold medal game for the Americans, but their performance Monday against Slovakia is an encouraging sign that they could at least crash the medal podium.
The United States lost two of its first three games, forcing the team into a qualification playoff.
After taking a 1-0 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes, the Russian athletes put the game away with two goals in the second period. Defenseman James Wisniewski scored next on a power play assisted by forward Troy Terry, who had a total of three assists in the second period. The Americans were inches away from a victory several times - when Brian O'Neill clanked it off the bottom of the post with 2:40 left in the third period, when Bobby Sanguinetti's shot left the puck sitting in the crease in the final moments of overtime, when Donato couldn't get the puck past Francouz at the side of the net.
With Cajovsky given a match penalty - a five-minute major and an ejection - and Nagy in the penalty box for goaltender interference, the US scored 18 seconds into its 5-on-3 power play with Donato screening Laco for Wisniewski's first goal to make it 2-0 at the 2:20 mark.
Ryan Zapolski (#30) and Noah Welch (#5) celebrate after defeating Slovakia in the men's play-offs qualifications game at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
Stop us if you've heard this before: Ryan Donato scored two goals for the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team in a win over Slovakia.
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"I came here with the intentions that he was not going to be able to come here", Ryan said.
NOTES: Donato's fifth goal passed his father, Ted, who scored four playing for the U.S.at the 1992 Albertville Games.
U.S. will meet Czech Republic in the semifinals. It would take a little longer for the U.S.to finally gel.
But Donato, who was drafted by the Bruins in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft, wasn't done yet.
"We've had a lot of chances that we didn't score on", Donato said, the Associated Press reported.
"The chemistry and the message that our players were able to send, that sports transcends the barriers, they did a great job".
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The U.S. failed to medal at Sochi 2014, finishing in fourth.
Jordan Greenway and Donate are needed to execute their best in the tonight's game against Slovakia.
The 21-year-old has scored the last three USA goals. Zapolski was on his game after giving up some soft goals in the preliminary round and showed his toughness when he took the shot to the head from Nagy.
"It's a little different for the move I usually do for the five hole", Terry said of his try as his parents and brother watched nervously from the stands.
- Germany eliminated Switzerland 2-1 in overtime, advancing to play top-seeded Sweden on Wednesday night.
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