T.J. Oshie scores shootout winner for U.S. against Russia
Oshie makes good on 4 of 6 shots
For Team USA it was T.J. Oshie or bust.
With the United States and Russia engaged in a shootout after a tightly-contested preliminary game, the St. Louis Blues centre took six shots, scoring four times, to lead his team to a 3-2 victory.
Unlike the NHL where players can only take one shot in the shootout, international rules allow for players to go as often as they want after the first three shooters have gone until the game is decided. So, after each team scored once through three shooters, Oshie took his team’s next five shots in a row, scoring three times.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said American teammate Ryan McDonagh. “I never realized he had all those moves for the shootout. He was pretty clutch. He stepped up and kept going and helped us get the extra point.”
The Russians also used individuals multiple times in the shootout. Ilya Kovalchuk shot four times, scoring twice, while Pavel Datsyuk took three shots connecting once.
Big ice no big deal
A large ice surface plus high skill level equals lots of scoring, right?
Quite the opposite, in fact.
The United States and Russia engaged in a low-scoring, tight-checking game that looked at times like it was being played in a phone booth. Despite the 200 ft by 100 ft dimension of the ice surface, there was precious little room to manoeuvre as both clubs placed a high priority on keeping the puck out of the net rather than trying to put it in the net.
And yet, with only bragging rights on the line for two teams expected to contend for the gold medal, the game had the same feel as a Stanley Cup final encounter.
It wasn’t until Joe Pavelski of the United States gave his team a 2-1 lead midway through the third period on a sweet one-timer that things opened up a bit.
Then, with American Dustin Brown in the penalty box, Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk struck on the power play thanks to a well-timed screen by teammate Alexander Radulov who took away the eyes of Team USA goalie Jonathan Quick. Suddenly what had been a marathon match turned into a dash as the teams desperately pursued the tie-breaking goal.
The Russians appeared to get it when defenceman Fedor Tyutin’s rocket from the point beat Quick, but the goal was waved off because the American net was dislodged. That opened the door for the game to be decided in overtime, but neither team was able to score so it went to a shootout.
Kane not able
Patrick Kane of the United States had a glorious opportunity to win the game midway through the five-minute overtime period when he broke in alone, but he was turned back by Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovski when he tried to score through the five-hole. Kane had a second scoring chance with 30 seconds remaining in OT, but failed to direct his backhander from in tight past Bobrovski.
President of the fan club
Veteran centre Datsyuk scored a beautiful goal at 9:15 of the second period not long after Russian president Vladimir Putin entered the Bolshoy Ice Dome to watch the host hockey team tangle with the United States.
The Russian captain slithered between three American defenders and snapped a low shot to the corner of the net to beat USA goalie Jonathan Quick. Putin was clearly delighted to see his team take a 1-0 lead. The president was one of 11,678 in attendance – the largest hockey audience of the Olympics thus far.
Swedish referee Marcus Vinnerborg was nailed by a deflected Alexander Ovechkin shot from the point in a tender area of the midsection and halted play immediately midway through the first period to regain his composure. Not to mention his will to live. He didn’t miss a shift.
American forward Ryan Kesler took one for the team when he threw himself in front of an Evgeni Malkin slap shot from close range while killing a penalty in the second period. The shot hit him in the hand. Kesler did not miss a shift.
Friend or foe?
Two members of the Montreal Canadiens, Max Pacioretty of Team USA and Alexei Yemelin engaged in a mini shoving match as tempers flared in the first period. They’ll probably laugh about it when they go back to being teammates.
Maple vs. Leafs
Team USA used Toronto Maple Leafs wingers Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk on the first power play unit while Russia countered with another Maple Leaf, winger Nikolai Kulemin on the penalty kill. Kessel and JVR teamed up to set up defenceman Cam Fowler with a power play goal to tie it 1-1 late in the second period.
Defenceman Ryan Suter tied teammate Paul Martin in time on ice in Team USA’s opening game of the tournament, a 7-1 win over Slovakia Thursday, playing 19:46. On Saturday vs. Russia, Suter played a whopping 29:56.