T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues was the hero Saturday as Team USA improved to 1-1-0-0 in preliminary round play with a 3-2 shootout win over host Russia in front of a partisan Russian crowd at the Bolshov Ice Dome in Sochi.
Oshie scored four times in the shootout, ending it in the eighth round by punched a forehand between the legs of Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Oshie took six of the Team USA’s eight opportunities—his work in the shootout is part of what earned him an Olympic berth. He leads American-born NHL players with seven shootout goals this season.
San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, a veteran of Team USA’s silver-medal squad in Vancouver in 2010, scored his first Olympic goal to give the U.S. a short-lived 2-1 lead at 9:27 of the third period.
Russia got both of its goals from Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. Datsyuk broke the goose-egg at 9:15 of the second period before Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks tied it at 16:34 of the second with a power-play goal. The assists went to James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel, both of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pavelski scored on the power play, assisted by Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and Kevin Shattenkirk of the Blues. It was Pavelski’s first Olympic goal in eight Olympic contests. Pavelski is tied for fourth in the NHL with 29 goals.
But Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown went to the box for kneeing at 12:26 (a shocker there, Dustin Brown kneeing someone) and Datsyuk made the Americans pay just 18 seconds into the man advantage, beating Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings for the second time.
The Russians very nearly had the go-ahead goal at 15:20 of the third period when Fedor Tyutin of Columbus appeared to score, but the goal was disallowed upon review because the net was off its moorings.
Kane had a chance to end it in overtime, but was denied by Bobrovsky on a breakaway.
In the shootout, Oshie scored on four of his six attempts, while van Riemsdyk had his lone attempt stopped by Bobrovsky. Pavelski also was stopped on his lone attempt.
For the Russians, former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk, who now plays for SKA Saint Petersburg in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, scored on two of his four attempts, Datsyuk was 1-for-3 and Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins missed the net on his lone attempt.
The win put the U.S. at the top of Group A with five points (three for their win over Slovakia and two for the shootout win over Russia). Russia is second with four points, while Slovenia has three and Slovakia is 0-2.
Quick stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced in net for Team USA, while Bobrovsky made 31 saves on 34 shots. Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens assisted on both goals for Russia.
Team USA wraps up preliminary round play Sunday against Slovenia. With a win of any sort, they would clinch their group and earn a bye into the quarterfinals of the elimination round.