The most highly anticipated match up of the preliminary round between Russia and Team USA was one for the ages, my blood pressure can attest to that. The game featured everything you’d want to see in a hockey fixture whether it be drama, heartbreak, and jubilation. Unfortunately for Russia today was not their day following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Yanks.
Both teams opened the game with a rather nervy start with neither putting up much of a fight in a game that brought Russia’s President Putin to the stands. The stalemate would continue into the second period when seemingly out of nowhere, Russia’s captain, Pavel Datsyuk found some room on a semi break after squeezing past the defense and squeezed a shot past Jonathon Quick. The goal didn’t rev the Russians up as it should have and a few minutes later they’d pay.
With Alexander Radulov in the penalty box with his first bonehead penalty, the US would tie it on a classic garbage goal with Cam Fowler slotting home off his skate. The game would remain tied heading into the final frame and it would be Evgeni Malkin who had the best chance in the early going to break the tie only to be robbed by Quick.
Later, with Radulov in the box yet again, Patrick Kane found Joe Pavelski with a perfect one-timer to give the Americans a 2-1 lead midway through the third. Russia would answer on their man-advantage with Datsyuk again playing the hero beating Quick 5-hole to knot things up. Mere minutes later, Russia had the lead after Fedor Tyutin’s blast beat Quick top shelf only to be called off due to the net being off its moorings with Quick knocking it off, possibly purposely.
The game would head into OT with the US having the best chance of the extra frame with Kane walking in one Sergei Bobrovsky (who was making his first start of the games) only to be denied by the reigning Vezina trophy winner.
The game would head into a shootout where it quickly became “The O Show” with TJ Oshie beating Bobrovsky four times after going shot for shot with Ilya Kovalchuk and Datsyuk. Eventually, Oshie was too much for Bobrovsky and clinched the win for the Americans giving them their second straight win.
For the Russians, they have to beat the lowly Slovaks less than 24 hours from now to regain the momentum from their first game of the tournament and win big. They have little time to sulk following their marathon loss in what was one of the most exciting hockey games I’ve ever seen. Should they beat the Slovaks and the Canadians fall to Finland in regulation, the two power-houses would meet in the quarter finals. If both Russia and Canada win in regulation then Russia would face the Fins.
However that’s all an afterthought with beating Slovakia soundly being the task at hand