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Blackhawks Fri Feb 19 2010

Blackhawks factor in Olympic wins, U.S. team in prime position

All 6 Hawks players were in action last night at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver, where all 3 national teams earned big wins with a bit of assistance from the Hawks.

The U.S. team routed Norway 6-1, and Patrick Kane notched his first Olympic goal in the 2nd period to extend the American lead to 3-0 at the time. The Canadian team won a 3-2 nailbiter over the Swiss in a shootout, and Hawks captain Jonathon Toews picked up an assist in the victory. Toews also was the second skater in the shootout for Team Canada, but his attempt was saved by Jonas Hiller. In the late nightcap, Hawks forward Marian Hossa scored the lone regulation goal for Slovakia, which then used the shootout to upset the Russian team 2-1. Hossa's shootout attempt was blocked, but in two games he's notched a goal and an assist and shown no ill effects from the concussion he suffered in the Blackhawks Feb. 13 game.

With two wins, the U.S. team currently leads group A with 6 points, one ahead of host Canada. The two teams will face off Sunday evening in a highly-anticipated matchup. In the Olympic tourney structure, following round-robin play the teams are ranked 1-12, with the top 4 teams earning byes to the quarterfinals. Rankins are done by points (3 points for a win, 2 for an overtime/shootout win, 1 for an overtime/shootout loss), with the tiebreaker being goal differential. A win over the Canadians could give the U.S. team a top 2 seed, and even a loss may still earn them a bye depending on the results of Groups B and C, who still have their 2nd games to play today.

After shaking off the rust in beating Switzerland 3-1, the U.S. overwhelmed the Norweigan team. For a team that was a bit of a darkhorse entering the Olympics, a win against Canada could push the Americans into front-runner status. Meanwhile, after escaping the Swiss despite controlling the game, a loss would most likely leave the Canadians outside of the top 4.

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