Oshie shoots U.S. past Russia in men’s hockey thriller
USA goaltender Jonathan Quick stops the last shot by Russia forward Ilya Kovalchuk in a shootout in the men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey )
Matt Antoine looks on after competing in the United States men's skeleton team trials Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, in Park City, Utah. Antoine came in first place after 2 heats. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
T.J. Oshie scored four times in the shootout and got the winner in the eighth round, leading the United States past Russia, 3-2, yesterday in the thrilling revival of a classic Olympic hockey rivalry.
Cam Fowler and Joe Pavelski scored in regulation for the Americans in the marquee game of the preliminary round. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves and stopped five attempts in the shootout.
International rules allow the same player to take multiple shots after the first three rounds of a shootout, and U.S. Coach Dan Bylsma leaned on Oshie, one of the NHL’s shootout specialists.
The St. Louis forward went 4-for-6 against Sergei Bobrovsky, ending the game with one last slow-developing move past the Columbus goalie. The Americans improved to 2-0 in preliminary-round play, all but wrapping up an automatic berth in the quarterfinals next week.
Captain Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals in regulation and another in the shootout for the Russians, who rallied from a third-period deficit. In a fast-paced game played in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an energized home crowd, the Russians also had an apparent goal waved off with 4:40 left because Quick’s net came off its moorings.
The gimmicky shootout finish was entertaining, but the entire game at the Bolshoy Ice Dome was international hockey at its most compelling – and the third period was a thriller.
Pavelski scored the tiebreaking goal for the Americans on a power play with 10:33 to play, but Datsyuk tied it with 7:16 left during a Russian power play, spurring Putin out of his seat to cheer.
After review, the officials waved off Fedor Tyutin’s apparent go-ahead goal because the net was loose, incensing the Russian crowd.
Both teams had quality scoring chances in overtime, but Bobrovsky denied Patrick Kane on a breakaway in the most hair-raising moment.
Oshie started off the shootout with a low shot between Bobrovsky’s legs, and the next four shooters missed before Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the third round. Datsyuk and Kovalchuk scored in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, but Oshie tied it twice in dramatic fashion.
Datsyuk and Oshie both missed in the seventh, and Quick denied Kovalchuk again before Oshie ended it.
Oshie was among the final selections for the U.S. roster, and the 27-year-old from Warroad, Minn., was chosen for exactly this type of situation. Although Oshie has never had a 20-goal NHL season, the hard-nosed forward has one of the highest rates of shootout success among the American-born players.
Although the game had little impact on the medal race in Sochi, the finish woke up the echoes of a U.S.-Russia rivalry best known for the “Miracle on Ice” at Lake Placid in 1980, when a team of American college students stunned the Soviet Olympic team.
The sociopolitical impact of that game is long gone, and the nations have already met three previous times in the Olympics since NHL players joined the games in 1998. Several players on both teams are teammates in the NHL, and this result only helped determine positioning for next week’s elimination games.
But the Sochi Games are extraordinarily important to the Russian players, and the arena was packed to overflowing with fans of both nations jovially posing for photos and comparing their colorful sweaters. The Russians waved hundreds of flags, blew horns and banged drums from the first moments of warm-ups.
Zbigniew Brodka won Poland’s first gold medal in the men’s 1,500 meters, finishing 0.003 seconds ahead of Koen Verweij of the Netherlands. It was one of the closest 1,500 finishes in Olympic history.
Brodka and Verweij were initially shown on the scoreboard to be tied for the top spot, but when the time was broken down to the thousandths, the victory went to Brodka in 1 minute, 45.006 seconds. Verweij was second in 1:45.009. The bronze went to Canada’s Denny Morrison, his second medal of the Sochi Games.
Verweij’s silver medal gave the Dutch 13 of the 21 medals awarded so far in the sport, including four golds. Traditionally, the U.S. team has been among the medal leaders halfway through the competition.
Anna Fenninger became the third straight Austrian woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic super-G. Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany won the silver and Nicole Hosp of Austria the bronze. Skiers from Austria have dominated the event since it began at the 1988 Calgary Games. Austrian skiers have now won eight of a possible 24 medals in the super-G.
Charlotte Kalla erased a 25-second deficit on the final leg to give Sweden the gold in the 4x5-kilometer relay. Finland finished second to win silver, and Germany took bronze. Favored Norway was well behind in fifth.
The Norwegian women had not lost a 4x5K relay since 2009 and entered yesterday’s race as huge favorites, with a team that featured the top four skiers in the overall World Cup standings. Yet they finished 53.6 seconds behind the winners.
“It is tough to see because we are so good in relay, we have always been so good, many seconds before the other girls,” said Heidi Weng, who skied the first leg for Norway. “And today others were better than us.”
Alexander Tretiakov won gold in men’s skeleton. Known as the “Russian Rocket,” Tretiakov finished well ahead of Latvia’s Martins Dukurs after hurtling down a track he’s trained on more than anyone else. Matt Antoine of the United States won bronze, the first skeleton medal for the U.S. since Jimmy Shea won gold in 2002.
Short track speedskating
Zhou Yang of China won her second consecutive gold medal in the women’s 1,500 meters – a race that included a three-skater crash involving 500-meter gold medalist Li Jianrou of China. Viktor Ahn of Russia won gold in the men’s 1,000, with teammate Vladimir Grigorev taking the silver. It was Ahn’s second medal of the Sochi Olympics.
Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch completed a gold medal sweep of the normal and large hills. Noriaki Kasai of Japan won the silver on the large hill and Peter Prevc of Slovenia took bronze. Stoch joins Simon Ammann and Matti Nykanen as the only men to win both individual events at the same Winter Games.
Canada became the first team to qualify for the semifinals in the women’s Olympic curling tournament by beating Russia and Japan. Sweden has the next best record, one game ahead of China, Britain and Switzerland. In the men’s tournament, China and Sweden earned wins to stay at the top of the qualifying round standings. Canada and Britain are a game behind in the race for the four playoff spots.
Russia’s Maria Komissarova underwent a 6½-hour operation on her fractured spine following a training accident yesterday. Russian freestyle ski federation spokesman Mikhail Verzeba said Komissarova fractured the 12th dorsal vertebrae in her lower-middle back and was taken to a hospital near the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park for emergency surgery.
The national freestyle ski federation issued a statement later saying a team of specialists participated in the surgery to insert a metal implant in Komissarova’s spine. The federation said Komissarova was conscious, and described her condition as “grave” but stable, adding that it was likely she’d need further surgery within weeks. Jenny Wiedeke, spokeswoman for the International Ski Federation, said the accident occurred on a series of jumps near the top of the course and that Komissarova fell while exiting the third jump.