In day four of the men’s Olympic hockey competition, an upset, an epic battle and two games which seemed to go as expected.
In the battle of “Slo” in the opening game, “enia” upset “akia” 3-1 in a stunning series of events. It was Slovenia’s first ever victory in Olympic hockey and a bitter disappointment for struggling Slovakia. The scoring did not begin until the third period with just over 3 minutes to play when Rok Ticar gave Slovenia a 1-0 lead. They added to their lead just more than five minutes later when captain Tomaz Razingar made it 2-0. 23 seconds later Anze Kopitar made it 3-0 before Tomas Jurco scored a meaningless goal for Slovakia with 18 second left. Slovenia, now in third place in Group A with 3 points, plays the United States Sunday while Slovakia, still in last place with 0 points, plays Russia before elimination play.
In the highly anticipated match between the United States and host country Russia, it was excitement from the entire game. After a scoreless first period, Pavel Datsyuk opened the scoring for Russia just over nine minutes into the middle frame. Cam Fowler answered for the Americans seven minutes later. Tied after two periods, Joe Pavelski game the United States a lead just over nine minutes into the third period before Russia answered a little more than three minutes later.
After tying the score, Russia appeared to net the go-ahead goal on a shot which snuck under the cross bar striking the rear bar, but the goal was disallowed after it was discovered the net was slightly off its’ moorings. Both Jonathan Quick for the United States and Sergei Bobrovsky for Russia made game saving stops in net during the extra period. After a tie at regulation and despite chances at both ends of the ice in overtime, the game went to a shootout to decide a victor.
The United States started the exchange when T.J. Oshie slipped a snap shot between Bobrovsky’s pads for the early lead. Russian countered with Evgeni Malkin whose high shot Quick stopped with his left arm. Next for the United States was James van Riemsdyk who fired a snap shot blocker side which Bobrovsky steered away and out from the net. Russia came back with Pavel Datsyuk who went backhand on Quick only to have it snared by Quick’s trapper glove. The third shooter for the Americans was Joe Pavelski who tried a stutter step on Bobrovsky only to work his way in too close where Bobrovsky smothered the effort. Ilya Kovalchuk shot third for the Russians and made no mistake on a wrist shot low glove side on Quick. The competition advanced to the sudden-death shootout phase.
Kovalchuk shot a second time, again going glove side, but was stymied by the American netminder as he got a piece of it preventing the score. Oshie then went his second time for the United States causing Bobrovsky to drop flat to the ice, but sending the puck high above the open net. Pavel Datsyuk shot a second time streaking in on Quick and going forehand. Quick got a piece of it, but it trickled between his body and right arm into the net to keep the competition going.
Oshie shot a third time burying a quick shot between Bobrovsky’s pads for the second time. Russia countered with Kovalchuk again who faded backhand, but swept the puck forehand sending the puck glove side above Quick for the score. On a fourth attempt, Oshie streaked in on Bobrovsky providing a deke which went the Russian goaltender down and sent the puck high glove side for another American goal. Russia came back with Datsyuk‘s again who fired a shot straight at Quick which he saved.
Oshie was up for a fifth attempt and went backhand on Bobrovsky, but the Russian was able to get a stick on the effort sending the puck out of harm’s way. Russia went again with Kovalchuk streaking in on Quick and sending him down on the ice, but could not lift the puck enough to send it above the fallen goalie. For the Americans, Oshie was up a 6th time. The gifted shootout wizard sent this drive right through the pads of Bobrovksy for the American win in the 8th round of the shootout. The Americans sit atop Group A with 5 points and take third place on Slovenia to close out preliminary play while the Russians, in second with 4 points, now face last place Slovakia.
Later in the day, Switzerland sent the Czech Republic to a 1-0 defeat thanks to a lone early goal by Simon Bondemann just over 14 minutes into the opening period. Both goaltenders played magnificently each facing 26 shots and keeping the game tight. Jonas Hiller registered the shutout for Switzerland while Ondrej Pavelec took the loss. Switzerland finished in second place in Group C with 6 points while the Czech Republic finishes in third place with 3 points.
In the final game of the day, Sweden faced Latvia and delivered a 5-3 victory. Patrik Berglund opened the scoring late in the opening period before Latvia answered ending the opening frame tied. Latvia opened the scoring early in the second to take a brief lead before Sweden countered 83 second later beginning with three unanswered goals by Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alredsson and Loui Ericsson to close the frame with a 4-2 lead. The teams traded goals in the third period, but Sweden was never threatened. Henrik Lundqvist finished stopping 20 of 23 shots. Sweden finished atop Group C with 9 points while Latvia finished last in Group C with 0 points.
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