USA forward David Backes (42) watches his goal sail into the net past Slovenia goaltender Luka Gracnar (40) during the 2014 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey game at Shayba Arena Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
SOCHI, Russia — Phil Kessel scored two of his three goals in the opening 4:33 and became the first U.S. player with an Olympic hat trick in more than a decade, leading the Americans to a 5-1 win over Slovenia on Sunday.
The U.S. (3-0) earned an automatic spot in the quarterfinals.
Kessel scored 1:04 after the puck dropped, showing that the Americans didn’t have a hangover after their emotionally charged shootout win over Russia on Saturday. His third goal midway through the second period made him the first U.S. player to have a hat trick at the Olympics since John LeClair did it on Feb. 15, 2002, against Finland.
Ryan Miller was 17.6 seconds away from a shutout, but Marcel Rodman scored. Miller made 17 saves in his Sochi Games debut.