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SOCHI, Russia -- Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick has drawn the starting assignment for Team USA in their first game of the Sochi Olympic hockey tournament Thursday night against Slovakia.
|Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (left) will get the start for Team USA in their first game against Slovakia, while Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard (right) will serve as backups.|
"I'm fortunate for the opportunity," Quick said. "And I'll just try to make the most of it."
Quick, a former playoff MVP, was the third goaltender for the U.S. in Vancouver four years ago at the Olympics and did not see any game action. His save percentage currently ranks 29th among NHL goalies, and he was out for nearly two months with a groin injury before returning to play in early January.
It is expected that Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller, the MVP of the Vancouver Olympic tournament, will serve as Quick's backup.
"He's a great goalie, and he's going to do great for us," Miller said of Quick. "We'll see where it goes from here, and I'll be ready to play."
Head coach Dan Bylsma told reporters that he informed the goaltenders of his decision on Wednesday morning during the team's practice.
The coach would not say whether he plans to change goaltenders during the three-game preliminary round.
"We're dealing with a position of strength when it comes to the goaltender decision," Bylsma said.
The U.S. opens with Slovakia, then plays Russia on Saturday and Slovenia on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens will get the first start in goal for Team Canada on Thursday against Norway, coach Mike Babcock said. Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks will start the second game Friday against Austria.
Babcock and both goalies attributed no significance to the order. The coach had previously said both goalies likely would start at least once in the preliminary round.
Price, a British Columbia native, will be making his Olympic debut.
"Obviously I'm thrilled, and I'm just ready to go," said Price, a three-time NHL All-Star selection. "It's definitely a highlight. I seem to have had a lot in my young life so far, but this definitely ranks up there."
The 34-year-old Luongo is a three-time Olympian who already earned a gold medal in 2010. He won four straight elimination games in Vancouver, making 34 saves in the overtime final against the United States.
"We're all here to play for Team Canada, man," Luongo said. "We're all pulling on the same rope. It's a team game right now. It's not about Roberto Luongo or Carey Price or Mike Smith. It's about being a part of Team Canada. It doesn't matter what role you're given. You have to embrace it and accept it."
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.