SOCHI, Russia – T.J. Oshie made the Team USA Olympic roster for his shootout prowess. In a dramatic victory over host Russia on Saturday in a Winter Olympic men’s hockey preliminary game, Oshie validated the choice.
T.J. Oshie scores a goal past Russia goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovski in an overtime shootout. (USA Today)
The St. Louis Blues forward scored four shootout goals in six attempts against Sergei Bobrovsky, including the game-winner, as the U.S. won an eight-round shootout and prevailed 3-2 at the Sochi Games.
Oshie opened the shootout with a five-hole goal. After the first three shooters for both teams cycled through their initial three shooters, Oshie became the Americans’ only participant. He missed high, scored five-hole, scored off the crossbar and Bobrovsky, missed again and then ended the game through Bobrovsky’s five hole again.
In an instant, a star was born for USA Hockey, and a team that many felt couldn’t match Russia’s offensive stars won the game in match of individual offensive skills.
The game featured blazing speed, dueling offenses and big saves from both Jonathan Quick and Bobrovsky. It had the feeling of the U.S. weathering a storm at times – a product of the energy the home crowd infused in the Russians. It also featured a singular performance by Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk, who scored two goals and another in the shootout.
For a moment, it appeared the game was headed to a regulation win for Russia rather than an overtime shootout. But an apparent third-period goal was waived off, sparking outrage from the arena crowd and controversy around the hockey social media world.
With 4:40 left in the third period, Russian defenseman Fedor Tyutin sailed a shot over the shoulder of Quick. But Quick had previously knocked the left post off its mooring while sliding to make a save – the red peg was visibly bent, but the net was still connected to it. After officials reviewed the goal, they waved off Tyutin’s apparent tie-breaking goal.
As the IIHF Rule 471A, Section 5 states in regards to disallowing a goal: "If the goal net has been displaced from its normal position, or the frame of the goal net is not completely flat on the ice."
In overtime, the U.S. couldn’t convert on a power play to start the period. Later, Patrick Kane was stopped on a breakaway by Bobrovsky, closing the pads with perfect timing. Bobrovsky stopped Kane again in close with 27 seconds left in the extra session.
Then it was time for Oshie in the shootout, ending a game that began with some outstanding team play.
After a scoreless first period, bedlam erupted at 9:15 of the second period. Datsyuk took a home run pass from Andrei Markov, moved around Brooks Orpik, accelerated to the goal ahead of John Carlson and Max Pacioretty and then beat Jonathan Quick cleanly for the 1-0 lead, as the fans in the stands roared and shook national flags in celebration
Special teams were a factor in the game, with the U.S. converting twice and Russia once. The U.S. goals – both times with NHL deserter Alex Radulov in the penalty box – came with the point man sneaking past the Russian penalty kill for goals.
With 3:26 left in the second period, the US knotted it on the power play. James van Riemsdyk, who moments earlier nearly scored on a between the legs move, fired the puck at close range. The rebound came to defenseman Cam Fowler, crashing the net from the point, who just managed to get enough wood on the puck to direct it home.
In the third period, the U.S. took the lead on the power play. Kane controlled the puck on the half boards, waiting for Joe Pavelski to slide down from the point. He sent a pinpoint pass across the Russian zone that Pavelski fired past Bobrovsky for the 2-1 lead at 9:27 of the third.
Datsyuk answered him at 12:44 with Dustin Brown in the penalty box – his second minor of the game – with a shot that beat Quick through the five-hole. Radulov, atoning for his sins, set a screen in front of the American goalie.
That would be all the scoring in the game, until Oshie, James van Riemsdyk, Ilya Kovalchuk and Datsyuk lit the lamp in the shootout.
Russia closes out the first round on Sunday against Slovakia, while the U.S. plays Slovenia, who won its first ever Olympic game against the Slovaks on Saturday. The victory over Russia puts the USA in the driver’s seat to win their group and earn a trip to the medal round quarterfinals.