Wings center Pavel Datsyuk was just 16 months old when his home country was upset by the USA in the “Miracle on Ice.” Thirty-four years later, Datsyuk captained Team Russia in a tense rematch of that historic game in the 2014 Winter Games, scoring two goals in a marquee Olympic matchup that fittingly needed an eight-round shootout to determine the victors.
The tension between the USA and Russia was obvious as the two gold-medal favorites took the ice Saturday morning, surrounded by various shades of red, white and blue that blanketed the Bolshoy Ice Dome for the preliminary tournament matchup that lived up to all of the hype as the Americans narrowly defeated Russia 3-2 in an instant Olympic classic.
“It was good, it was intense, it was everything you thought it was going to be,” San Jose forward Joe Pavelski told NBC Sports Net’s Pierre McGuire. “We knew coming in it was going to be, the atmosphere was going to be great, a game we were all really enjoyed playing in and it didn’t disappoint. All the guys showed up and played well.”
Russia held a 13-10 shot advantage through the scoreless first period, and had an opportunity to take a one-goal lead on a power play five minutes into the second. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin ripped off two slap shots on the power play that were boldly blocked by Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Livonia native Ryan Kesler. Both players were shaken up blocking the forward’s shot, and Kesler even skated off the ice in obvious pain after taking a puck to his left hand, but the Russians were held off the scoreboard.
“They have a great team with a lot of really good players and we did a pretty good job shutting the door on them and limiting their chances,” Blues forward T.J. Oshie said.
Team Russia would get another opportunity five minutes later, though, and this time Datsyuk would deliver. The center netted the first goal of the game midway through the second, inspiring an astounding eruption of cheers from the Russian fans occupying the arena. Datsyuk showcased his renowned puckhandling skills, maneuvering between the USA defensemen and exploding through the middle of the ice to score his first goal of the tournament.
But the Russians only had a few minutes to celebrate, as Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler tied the game with just over three minutes left in the period. The USA outshot Team Russia 13-8 in the second and blocked nine of the opposing team’s shots, and the two countries entered the final period locked in a 1-1 tie.
Pavelski gave the USA its first lead of the game midway through the third. After the Americans won a faceoff in Russia’s zone, Chicago’s Patrick Kane found Pavelski on a cross-ice pass, and the forward netted a one-timer to give Team USA its second power play goal of the game.
With the pressure rising on the host country, Datsyuk stepped up to the challenge for Russia, notching a power play of his own two minutes later for his second score of the game.
The Russians appeared to take the lead with 4:40 left in the game, when Fedor Tyutin’s rocket from the top of the left circle beat goaltender Jonathan Quick. But after further review, the referees ruled that the net had been dislodged and the goal was waved off, an international rule that does not apply to the NHL.
“After they called it a goal I looked back and saw that the net was off a bit so I didn’t know if that happened before or after the puck went in and luckily if that was the reason they called it off luckily it happened before,” Quick said.
After a scoreless overtime period, Oshie scored all four of Team USA’s goals on Sergei Bobrovski in an eight-round shootout to lift the Americans past Russia.
“I kept looking back seeing if anyone else was going to go,” Oshie said. “I told some of the boys on the last couple that I’m running out of moves here. It was a little nerve-racking but I got through it.”
Following his game-winning shootout goal, the forward pointed across the rink to Quick, acknowledging his goaltender’s stellar 29-save performance, including five in the shootout, in his second straight start for the USA.
“We don’t get the win without Quickie shutting the door there,” Oshie said.
Both countries will play their final preliminary tournament game Sunday, as Russia will face Slovakia on USA and the Americans will play Slovenia on NBC Sports Net, both beginning at 7:30 a.m.
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