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U.S. men can't put Norway on ice

February 18, 2010 |  1:40 pm

Usa Apparently operating on the theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, fans at Canada Hockey Place broke out occasional chants of "Let's Go Norway" during the Norwegians' game against the U.S. on Thursday.

And the Canadians in the crowd who hoped the U.S. might lose -- or at least be challenged before facing Canada on Sunday -- got a thrill when Zach Parise of the U.S. lost the puck in the offensive zone and Marius Holtet took it the other way for a short-handed goal at 8:37 of the second period that cut the Americans' lead to 3-1. That's where it stood after two periods, as the U.S. outshot Norway by only an 8-7 margin in the second period. Overall the U.S. had a 23-9 edge in shots.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Phil Kessel -- who used his speed to beat a helpless defender after taking a pass from Joe Pavelski -- and a rebound converted by Chris Drury, the U.S. padded its lead to 3-0 early in the second period. Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, who is being counted on to be a catalyst for the offense, scored his first goal of the tournament when he beat a Norwegian defender to the rebound of a shot by Parise that had been stopped by goaltender Pal Grotnes.

Chants of "USA" soon rivaled the chants for Norway, creating a lively atmosphere in the jampacked arena.

One more note: Team USA General Manager Brian Burke, in an interview conducted after the first period and shown on the massive scoreboard suspended above center ice, downplayed criticism of these Olympics. "I've been to four Olympic Games and these by far are the best I've been to," he said, earning cheers from fans who had booed him earlier because he's also the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

More later at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: USA forward Ryan Callahan, right, tangles with Norway defenseman Ole Kristian Tollefsen during the first period on Thursday. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press