Jordan Greenway, the first African American to ever suit up for the men's Olympic hockey team, and Yale graduate Brian O'Neill tallied for the United States of America, while it was Slovenia's only player with NHL experience who led the comeback.
A third-period goal by Peter Ceresnak gave Slovakia a shock 3-2 win over the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation on Wednesday as the gold medal favorites squandered a two-goal lead.
While Slovenia had just three shots on goal in the first period, a bad giveaway by Noah Welch forced US goalie Ryan Zapolski into a compromising position.
Zapolski allowed three goals on 25 shots, including the first goal by Jan Urbas.
The Americans were in ideal shape through two periods, as Brian O'Neill gave them a 1-0 lead in the first, and Minnesota Wild forward prospect Jordan Greenway made it 2-0 in the second.
Slovakia's Peter Ceresnak scored the game-winning goal with 11:30 remaining in a 3-2 victory over the favoured Russians by a team assembled days ago by a Canadian coach who can't even talk to all his players.
With NHL players not being featured in the Games for the first time since 1994, a team comprised of former players, those applying their trade in Europe and collegiate athletes have been tasked to continue the high standard built by Team USA over the past 20 years.
The United States built a 2-0 lead and a 24-12 shot advantage on Slovenia through two periods, but got completely manhandled by a hockey country nearly exclusively known for producing Anze Kopitar in the third frame.
BC-OLY-HKO-Russia-Slovakia, 1st Ld-Writethru, 514Russian gold-medal favorites lose opening game to SlovakiaAP Photo OLYMH129, OLYMH128, OLYMH119, OLYMH117, OLYMH111, OLYMH120Eds: Updates with more detail, quotes.
The U.S. doubled up Slovenia in shots after two but couldn't pull away and increase its margin of error. Jordan Greenway scored to help the US take a two-goal lead more than halfway through the second period. Slovenia drew within one about five minutes into the final period and then dialed up the heat.
Granato kept Team USA's starting goalie under wraps much of a lead-up to the Games, but on Tuesday gave Ryan Zapolski the nod in net for the opener.
The U.S.at least picked up a point by getting to overtime, while the Russians lost 3-2 in regulation to Slovakia across town at Gangneung Hockey Centre. "So it's good for us to learn from that third period". But no excuses. They were the better team in the third and it was good enough for them to get the win. And failing to beat Slovakia at the Olympics is a reminder of more recent problems.
"We outskated them in the third, especially, and had more energy", said Mursak, who spent time with the Detroit Red Wings.
"We'll learn from this", O'Neill said.