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Datsyuk doesn't figure in Russia's win

Red Wings' veteran returns to center for first time since suffering injury Jan. 1

Thursday, 02.13.2014 / 11:04 AM ET / Recap
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Datsyuk doesn\'t figure in Russia\'s win
Pavel Datsyuk logged 15:09 of ice time in 17 shifts in Russia's 5-2 tournament-opening win over Slovenia Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Getty Images)

For the home team and Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, the Olympic hockey tournament finally got underway Thursday afternoon in Sochi.

Datsyuk didn’t figure in the scoring but the Russians had plenty of fire power to out-muscle Slovenia to a 5-2 victory before 11,653 fans at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Valeri Nichushkin and Anton Belov scored for Russia.

The tournament is a very big deal for the Russians who haven’t won a major championship since the 1981 Canada Cup, and Datsyuk, despite a left leg injury insisted on playing in this historic event in his homeland.

The Red Wings’ two-way center missed 14 straight games after the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day. He returned to the Detroit lineup last Thursday playing in the Wings’ final two games prior to the Olympic break at Florida and Tampa Bay.

In those games, Datsyuk – who is averaging more than 20-minutes of ice time this season – uncharacteristically played the wing on a line centered by Darren Helm. Datsyuk logged just 13:34 minutes against the Panthers and 14:46 against the Lightning, and only took one face-off when Helm was tossed from the circle against Florida.

Selected to be Russia’s team captain, Datsyuk centered the top line with former NHL forwards Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov. Whether or not he was bothered by the injury, Datsyuk just didn’t look like himself in the opener, firing just one shot on goal and winning 7-of-15 face offs.

For Slovenia, the game marked that country’s Olympic hockey debut. The Slovenians had to win a qualifying round last February with three consecutive victories, including victories over previous Olympic qualifiers Belarus and Demark.

Former Red Wings forward Jan Mursak played on Slovenia’s top line with Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar. The pair is Slovenia’s only players to ever play in the NHL.

Center Ziga Jeglic scored both goals for Slovenia, who will play Slovakia on Saturday in Group A, while Russia will meet the USA in Saturday’s other Group A contest.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80