(USA TODAY) SOCHI, Russia - Phil Kessel is the hottest hockey scorer in this galaxy and the next.
Not Sidney Crosby, not Alex Ovechkin, not Pavel Datsyuk, not even American T.J. Oshie, can match the numbers Kessel has put up in the past month.
Kessel scored three goals, giving him four for the tournament, to lift the U.S. men's Olympic team to a 5-1 win that will give the Americans (3-0) a bye into the quarterfinals.
The Americans will be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed going to the quarterfinals on Wednesday, depending upon what happens in the Canada vs. Finland game later Sunday.
The speedy Kessel came into the Olympics with 10 goals and 13 assists in his last 12 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also registered two assists in his first game against Slovakia, meaning Kessel has 14 goals and 15 assists in his past 15 games.
Coming into the tournament, it was thought that Phil might not even be the highest-scoring Kessel in the tournament because his sister Amanda is key forward for the U.S. women's team. Going into the men's quarterfinals and women's semifinals, Phil has a 6-4 lead over Amanda in points. She has two goals and two assists.
Ryan Miller got the start over Jonathan Quick in net against the Slovenia, an expected move because the Americans were playing back-to-back games. Miller, the hero of USA's 2010 silver medal run, had 17 saves, his shutout ruined when Marcel Rodman scored with 1:18 left.
Quick is expected to be back in net when the Americans enter the medal round.
The Americans downed the Slovenians without being particularly sharp in the contest. They didn't have the same jump and intensity level that they displayed in the dramatic 3-2 shootout win against Russia that transformed Oshie into a national sports hero.
Predictably having a letdown after the big win, the Americans still were able to grab a 2-0 lead, thanks to the work of the line of James van Riemsdyk, Joe Pavelski and Kessel. Pavelski set up Kessel for goals at 1:04 and 4:33. The Americans had only seven shots on goal in the period, and Kessel scored on two of them.
Sharper in the second period, Kessel completed his hat trick at 11:05 of the period on a set-up from Van Riemsdyk and Pavelski.
A little more than a minute later, New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored from the right wing circle on a nifty set up by Blake Wheeler.
David Backes scored in the third period to make it a 5-0 game.
More on Sochi...
PHOTOS: 2014 Sochi Olympics
Local Athletes: Stamkos will not play in Sochi
Marty St. Louis replaces Stamkos in Olympics
Ellenton skaters representing Team USA at Sochi
Security: Olympic response team: Security firm ready in wings
Passenger with bomb claim tried to divert plane to Sochi
Airlines warned on possible Olympics toothpaste bombs
TSA bans all liquids from carry-on bags on flights to Russia
U.S. Olympic athletes warned against wearing uniforms
U.S. can rescue Americans in Sochi if needed
Countries receive terrorist threats for Olympics
Obama offers Putin assistance in preventing Sochi attacks
'Black Widow' seen as Olympic Games threat
Chechen warlord who threatened Olympics reportedly killed
Gay Rights Battle: Russia's Vladimir Putin links gays to pedophiles
PundiFact rates claims by Vladimir Putin on gay rights
Olympics official Mario Pescante: Gay athletes on U.S. delegation "absurd"
Russia arrests 4 gay rights activists as Olympics begin
Google Olympic Doodle makes statement about Russia Anti-Gay Law
Social Media: Sochi satire Twitter account goes viral
Twin toilets photo at Sochi Olympics goes viral
Sochi Problems: Sochi city hall orders killing of stray dogs
Sochi dog lovers scramble to save strays from poison