T.J. Oshie’s four shootout goals carried team U.S.A. past the hometown Russian squad on Saturday. The battle for Group A supremacy in Sochi was one of the greatest international hockey games to date. Russia and the U.S. are two of the favorite teams for medals this year in Sochi, and they both showcased why on Saturday.
Despite the epic ending to this one, it started out slowly. The first period ended in a scoreless tie as the two powerhouse teams tried to feel one another out. In the second period it was the Russian’s who found the back of the net first.
Just under 10 minutes into the period, it was the Russian wizard, Pavel Datsyuk, slicing through the American defense and firing a wrist shot that beat Jonathan Quick to give the Russians a 1-0 edge. Later in the period the Americans would answer on the power play. James Van Riemsdyk’s shot went off the skate of Cam Fowler and into the net. There was no distinct kicking motion, and the U.S. tied the game at 1.
Midway through the third period, the Americans would strike again on the power play. This time it was Joe Pavelski taking the feed from Patrick Kane for a one-timer that blasted past Sergei Bobrovski. The American’s 2-1 lead was short-lived.
Just over three minutes later, Russia would find themselves on a power play of their own, and that was when Andrei Markov found Pavel Datsyuk for his second goal of the game. The game was tied with less than 10 minutes to play in the third.
With just under five minutes to play in the third, Fedor Tyutin scored what the Russians believed to be goal, however under further review, the goal was eventually disallowed. Seconds before Tyutin put the puck past Jonathan Quick; the net became dislodged from the ice. By international rules, play must be called dead the instant the net is moved from its place in the ice.
The Americans caught a massive break and the third period ended in a 2-2 tie. In preliminary competition tie games go to a five-minute overtime period before headed to a shootout. Patrick Kane had a breakaway opportunity in overtime, but he could not beat Bobrovsky. Overtime solved nothing in this one, so on they went to the shootout.
The first round of the shootout featured TJ Oshie for the Americans, and Evgeni Malkin for the Russians. Oshie was able to carry the puck past Bobrovsky, while Quick stopped Malkin to put the U.S. up 1-0 over the Russians after the first round in the shootout. In the second round both James Van Riemsdyk and Pavel Datsyuk were stopped by the opposing goaltenders.
In the third round Joe Pavelski was unable to solve Bobrovsky, while Ilya Kovalchuk snuck one past Jonathan quick to tie the shootout at one. The fourth round is where things got interesting. In international play, teams are allowed to use the same player multiple times after the third round of shooters. The Americans brought TJ Oshie to Sochi as a secret weapon in the shootout, and he delivered.
Oshie single-handedly out battled Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk as he scored on 3 of his final 5-shootout attempts before finally carrying the U.S. past the Russians in the eighth round of the shootout. American head coach Dan Bylsma referred to Oshie as player of the game after a two-assist performance in the States 7-0 victory over Slovakia. If that performance was worthy of player of the game, it is likely that Oshie’s 4 for 6 performance in the shootout against the Russians, would be enough to earn him that title again.
By Eric Kummel