Veteran goaltender Jan Laco stopped 35 of 36 shots, leading Slovakia past the U.S. 2-1 on Friday in the opener for both teams at the Deutschland Cup.
This was the first tuneup game for the American men before the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will take place without NHL players.
Defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti, a 2006 first-round pick of the New York Rangers, scored the only goal for the U.S. The Americans outshot Slovakia 36-16.
"Obviously you'd love to win, but when the other goalie's the best player on the ice, it doesn't matter how much you do," U.S. coach Tony Granato said. "They found ways to make it hard for us around the net and when we were able to get something through, their goalie was the best player on the ice."
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U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski stopped four of five shots in the first period, and David Leggio stopped 10 of 11 in the second and third.
Patrik Lamper and Marek Hovorka scored for Slovakia, which faces host Germany on Saturday. The U.S. faces Russia next, after Granato makes some offensive adjustments.
"When you score one goal, you hope you get more goals for those 36 shots," Granato said. "We're just going to try to get better tomorrow and learn from what happened today."
Granato called it a good first game, especially from his defensemen because the team created so many scoring chances. Forward Ryan Stoa led the U.S. with seven shots on goal.
"I think a lot of guys had really good performances and showings," Granato said.