Peter Ceresnak stopped the bleeding temporarily for Slovakia to make it a 3-1 game, but Garrett Roe answered back with a goal in the third period to put the United States back into a three-goal lead.
"We came in with the intention of being confident, not just being anxious about going home", said Donato.
"I think people saw tonight we have a very fast team and a team that can play good hockey", Terry said. Losing them both would have been devastating, but instead they shook it off and were two of the best players on the ice. The Czech Republic is up next for the U.S.
Team USA during Monday's 5-1 win against Slovakia. "I think what we learned from our team is it doesn't matter what the other team does".
Zapolski is among the best goaltenders in the Kontinental Hockey League but conceded "maybe things weren't going the way I had hoped the first few games" when he allowed a few soft goals.
The three-goal period matched the number of goals that United States of America had scored in the first three games.
Linemate Troy Terry from the University of Denver had three assists but it was the Harvard standout Donato's second two-goal performance that provided the spark and also moved him into a tie as the tournament's top goalscorer with four.
"I just dipped my head for a second to look at the puck and looked up and had an elbow in my mouth", Donato said.More news: Russian Federation probe looking into Kushner's business contacts
Donato, who also netted two goals against Slovakia in a 2-1 group-stage victory, blasted a rebound into the far top corner 96 seconds into the second period to put the US ahead 1-0.
After a listless first period with no goals and few scoring chances, the US wasted little time getting on the board early in the second.
"He's a really tough kid, and you see how much just of a natural goal-scorer he is", Terry said of Donato.
The Slovaks got on the scoreboard later in the period with a power-play goal when Jordan Greenway was in the penalty box for slashing, Peter Ceresnak's slap shot from the point deflected by a USA stick and past a stranded Zapolski. "So we have a lot of belief in our team and we're excited to keep going".
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"There's some different weapons that we'll have to be aware of", Granato said.
The pool stage proved to be a mixed bag for the U.S, who suffered a 3-2 overtime defeat against Slovenia, before beating Slovakia 2-1. Veteran forward Jim Slater returned to the lineup, replacing Chad Kolarik.
Scoring on the 5-on-3 power play that came with Cajovsky ejected and Nagy in the box was the kind of confidence-building goal the USA needed, and getting to five against the team coach Tony Granato called perhaps the best defensive team in the tournament has the Americans feeling good going into the quarterfinals.