The 2023 IIHF Men’s World Championship has only been going on for five days, and Team USA is already off to a 3-0 start in Finland.
That tournament-opening record, the U.S. Men’s National Team’s best since 2018, is in part due to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Drew O’Connor scored the game-deciding goal in USA’s 4-1 win over host Finland Friday. Team captain Nick Bonino scored twice and earned player-of-the-game honors in the Americans’ 7-1 rout of Hungary Sunday.
And on Monday, Casey DeSmith made 30 saves to backstop Team USA to a 3-2 win over Germany. In his second start of the tournament, DeSmith was named the American player of the game for the second time.
Germany put up the toughest competition USA has faced so far. The German offense outshot and outplayed the Americans for stretches of the first two periods, and Team USA headed into the third period on Monday trailing by two goals.
A goal from Montreal Canadiens prospect Sean Farrell six minutes into the final frame got Team USA within one. Then, with just over five minutes left, Calgary Flames prospect Matt Coronato gave the Americans a late lead on a power play.
The Germans responded with a barrage of shots on the American net. DeSmith stood tall, weathering over two minutes of 6-on-5 and making a game-saving catch with just over one minute left, to close out the victory. He finished the evening with 30 saves to help Team USA survive being outshot by Germany, 32-26.
DeSmith has now established his place as Team USA’s go-to starter over Los Angeles Kings backup netminder Cal Petersen.
World Championship contests might not be equal to the competition players face in the NHL, but these wins and honors could still be an excellent confidence boosters for DeSmith. That’s good news for the Penguins, who already have him signed for one more year at $1.8 million and will need a competent backup goalie as they figure out the team’s goaltending situation next season.