T.J. Oshie scored in the eighth round of the shootout to give the United States a dramatic 3-2 win over host nation Russia to stay atop Group A in the men's hockey tournament.
Although it was a game that was mostly for seeding purposes, it was impossible to tell. Both teams played with the intensity and physicality of a knockout-round game. They were diving on the ice to block shots and were willing to take a hit to keep control of the puck.
In other words, the most hyped matchup of the group stage certainly lived up to the top billing. Let's see how the game played out and take a look at the updated group standings in a recap of the action from the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Result and Group Standings
|Group A - United States vs. Russia|
|Team||1st Period||2nd Period||3rd Period||OT||SO||Score|
|Group A Standings|
There was no hesitant play from the United States or Russia out of the gate. Sometimes in these high-profile games, neither side wants to make the first mistake so the early action is very conservative. That wasn't the case, as both squads came out flying.
John Kreiser of NHL.com passed along some pregame comments from American forward David Backes, who knew the American side would need to match the intensity of the other side:
"We know that this is their home country," Backes said. "They've been getting a lot of attention, they've got a lot of firepower, and there will be no need for motivation on their side. We'll need to match that."
Rob Carlin of CSN compared the immediate back-and-forth play to a Game 7 in the NHL playoffs:
Russia started to gain a noticeable edge after Blake Wheeler took a tripping penalty just after the halfway mark of the period. The extended zone time allowed the host nation's dynamic offensive players to get a lot of touches.
Luckily for the Americans, Jonathan Quick was up to the task with multiple close-range stops to keep the game scoreless. There was some debate as to whether the Los Angeles Kings goalie deserved the nod over Ryan Miller for the Games, but both were solid options.
Team USA was able to get things moving again late in the first period. Some good work on the puck led to a holding call on Ilya Nikulin with less than a minute to go in the opening 20 minutes.
The deadlock was finally broken just before the halfway mark of the second period on a nice passing play by the Russians.
Alexander Radulov found Andrei Markov, who made a terrific long outlet pass to Pavel Datsyuk. The Detroit Red Wings star split the American defense pair of John Carlson and Brooks Orpik before beating Quick with a shot just inside the post.
It was a brilliant play by Datsyuk, which is a good sign for Russia. He didn't look like himself during the team's opening win over Slovenia as he works through a lower-body injury. The center looked far more like himself as he split the United States defense and buried the shot.
Jeff MacGregor of ESPN joked about the great effort:
The United States struck back on the power play in the final minutes of the second. Defenseman Cam Fowler charged in from the point and the puck deflected off his skate on a pass from James van Riemsdyk and into the net.
There was no distinct kicking motion, so the goal stood upon review. Despite the game being played in Sochi, Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated noted some American fans made their presence felt after the goal to level the score:
After Russia failed to capitalize on a pair of man advantages early in the third period, the United States took its first lead of the game after a penalty on Radulov.
It was the same type of play that worked for the Americans on their first goal. Joe Pavelski skated in on the back side of the play, took a pass from Patrick Kane and ripped a shot by Bobrovsky, who couldn't get across the crease in time.
USA Hockey noted the perfect delivery from Kane that set up the goal:
Russia fought back three minutes later as the penalties caught up with the United States. With Dustin Brown in the box for kneeing, Datsyuk found the score sheet for the second time to tie the game at two.
While it was a nice shot from Datsyuk, there was an even better screen set by Radulov right in front of Quick. As Jerry Sullivan of The Buffalo News pointed out, the play helped Radulov make up for the earlier penalties:
The Russians appeared to take the lead a short time later as a blast from Fedor Tyutin found its way through a crowd and into the net. Upon further review, however, the net was off its moorings, and therefore the tally was waved off.
Larry Lage of The Associated Press reports the IIHF confirmed the ruling:
Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo Sports noted the net was actually off for a while without a whistle before the apparent goal.
After that, neither team could find the net before the end of regulation.
The United States started overtime with about 30 seconds of a carryover power play, but couldn't convert.
Kane had another golden opportunity for the Americans as he walked in all alone on Bobrovsky. He tried to go five hole, but the Russian netminder made the huge stop.
Russia's Alex Ovechkin, who had a quiet game by his standards, and Kane both had chances inside the final minute and were stopped, sending the game into a shootout.
Oshie scored on the first shot for the United States. The next four shooters were all stopped before Ilya Kovalchuk scored to send it to extra shooters.
After a pair of misses, Datsyuk scored to give Russia the edge, and Oshie, shooting for the third time in the shootout, matched him. Kovalchuk, also shooting for a third time, gave the Russians the edge again. Then, once again, Oshie kept the Americans alive.
Two rounds later, a winner finally emerged. Following a Quick stop, Oshie found the net again on his sixth attempt to give the United States a hard-fought win.
ESPN Stats and Info noted that Oshie scored all four of the team's shootout goals:
Looking ahead, both Russia and the United States will finish up group play on Sunday. The host nation goes up against Slovakia, which has given up 10 goals in its two losses. The Americans face a Slovenian squad that's been more competitive than expected.
Both teams should score wins and enter the knockout rounds on a high note. Given the level of performance from each side through the first two games, it would appear both the United States and Russia are bound for at least the semifinals.
From there, anything can happen.
Current Medal Count