May 10, 2012, 4:58 PM EST
It was a classic bookend game for Team USA. They started and ended their game with Belarus on fire on their way to a 5-3 win at the World Championships in Helsinki.
Goals from Justin Abdelkader and Cam Atkinson in the opening 6:31 of the first period helped chase Belorussian starting goalie Andrei Mezin from the game and get the United States out flying. Things wouldn’t stay hot for long though as over the following period and a half, Belarus was able to tie the game up. Late in the second and into the third period, however, America stepped up.
Nate Thompson broke the tie late in the second period while Bobby Ryan and Paul Stastny scored in the third to put Team USA up 5-2. Belarus would add a five-on-three power play goal with 10 seconds remaining to provide the final tally that would be too little, too late. Jimmy Howard finished with 23 saves for the win.
With the win, Team USA holds sits in third place in Group H, four points behind unbeaten Finland and two back of Canada. The Americans have to keep winning, however, because Slovakia and Switzerland are each just two points behind. Only the top four teams qualify for the quarterfinals and the U.S. does not have the tiebreaker over Slovakia. Team USA’s two remaining games are against Finland and Switzerland.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
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