SOCHI, Russia – Paul Stastny has always taken as much pride in wearing the USA jersey as his father, Peter, owned wearing the Slovakia sweater.
Unquestionably, some of his relatives must have had mixed feelings Thursday when Paul scored a pair of goals to help power USA to a 7-1 shellacking of Slovakia in their opening game of the Olympic men's hockey tournament.
"It's always fun to play Slovakia," Paul said before the tournament. "Parents, a lot of family are from Slovakia, so it's always something unique and I enjoy doing."
Paul's father, Peter, played in the 1980 Olympics for Czechoslovakia and then carried the Slovakian flag in the opening ceremony in 1994.
According to Paul, his parents are rooting for the USA in the tournament. "Blood is more important, so family first," Paul said. "They are the biggest U.S fans. I'm not worried about that."
Paul is a veteran of international play, and this is the first time he has been on a U.S. team that defeated the Slovaks.
Phil Kessel also had a goal and two assists for the Americans (1-0) in front of a crowd of 4,119. Dustin Brown, Ryan Kesler, John Carlson and David Backes also scored for the USA.
The Americans scored six times in the second period to tie an an American Olympic record for most goals in a period, established in 1956, and then tied three times by the 1960 Olympic gold medal team and then again by the 1964 team and the 2010 team.
The speedy Kessel, whose sister, Amanda, plays on the U.S. women's team, might be the hottest player on the planet. He went into the Olympic break with 10 goals in his past 12 NHL games.
Detroit Red Wings player Tomas Tatar scored Slovakia's only goal against U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick on a wicked wrist shot from near the left wing circle. Replays showed he was actually offside on the play.
The Slovakia team is considered a dangerous team in the tournament because it boasts Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa, among others. The team's chief problem is depth; it didn't help when Marian Gaborik had to pull out because of an injury.
The Americans now play for a showdown against Russia on Saturday (7:30 a.m. ET).