It took a disallowed goal and eight shootout rounds to decide, but thanks to TJ Oshie scoring four times in the shootout, Team USA was able to knock off Russia 3-2 on Saturday morning to take command of Pool B in the men's hockey tournament in Sochi.
Joe Pavelski and Cam Fowler both notched goals for the victorious Americans, while Pavel Datsyuk scored twice in a losing effort for the Russians.
The atmosphere in the arena was loud and carnival-like as the game got started, and both teams thrilled the crowd with some high quality scoring chances. First it was Valeri Nichushkin driving the net and getting a good chance for the Russians, but Quick made the key stop. Then Dustin Brown came to the forefront, snapping off a quick shot that Sergei Bobrovsky had to make a scrambling save on.
After those early chances, the two defenses began to assert themselves. Ryan Callahan drilled Alex Ovechkin along the boards in the defensive zone, inciting some heated words and shoving in front of the US net. After that, the Russians got their own chance when Evgeni Malkin sprinted up the ice with the puck, but US defenseman Ryan McDonagh was able to catch up to him and make a deft stick-check to end the rush.
Both teams got power plays in the later stages of the first period, but neither side was able to convert. Patrick Kane made a great drive to the net on the American man-advantage, but Bobrovsky was able to stop the best chance of the sequence, and sent the game to the first intermission with the score 0-0.
The second period started off with a big push by the Russians, and they carried that momentum throughout a good chunk of the period. Part of the push came courtesy of a power play, which saw Ryan Kesler take a shot off the hand and head down the tunnel to the dressing room. He did make his way back onto the bench, but the Russians still continued to pound away as the US was put on its heels.
That momentum eventually paid off for the home nation squad as they took the lead early in the second period. Datsyuk got the puck in the neutral zone, and taking advantage of some poor defensive positioning by John Carlson and a bad angle by Brooks Orpik, knifed his way to the net and scored on a breakaway chance against Jonathan Quick to make it 1-0 Russia.
Alex Radulov committed an ill-advised interference penalty against Dustin Brown later in the frame, and the US was able to seize the momentum. With James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel both crashing the net, the Americans got several opportunities, but eventually a pass from van Riemsdyk ricocheted off of Fowler's skate and past Sergei Bobrovsky, tying the game at 1-1 and silencing the pro-Russian crowd.
As the second period ended and the third period began, both teams took a couple of ill-advised penalties, but neither power play unit could capitalize. Ryan McDonagh took the brunt of the punishment on this one, stopping an Ovechkin shot from the point and wincing in pain afterwards. Quick also made a sprawling save with his pad against Evgeni Malkin later in the third period to keep the game tied.
Just as both teams seemed to be settling down after some contentious moments, Radulov headed back to the penalty box, and the US took advantage. Kane collected the puck along the boards, and somehow feathered a pass between two Russian defenders on the stick of Pavelski, and the San Jose Sharks center didn't miss as he buried a one-timer snapshot to give the US a 2-1 lead.
Just a few minutes later though, the Russians bounced back. With Brown in the penalty box for an ill-advised interference penalty, Datsyuk scored his second goal of the game, taking advantage of a great screen by Radulov to knot things up at 2-2.
The Russians appeared to take the lead with less than five minutes remaining in the game when a Fedor Tyutin slapshot curled under the crossbar and into the net, but video review showed that the net had been dislodged off its moorings when Quick had made a stop earlier in the sequence, and as a result the officials overturned the ruling.
Both sides ended up getting some glorious chances in the closing minutes, with Kovalchuk firing a shot just wide of the post on the best of the opportunities, and the two sides headed to overtime.
In the overtime frame, it was the US who carried the majority of the play. Kane had two excellent opportunities to score, first on a breakaway that was stopped with a brilliant leg pad save by Bobrovsky and then on a backhanded attempt just in front of the cage with about 30 seconds left. Neither team could score in the extra stanza, and it headed to a shootout.
The shootout ended up lasting eight intense rounds, with Oshie being forced to score twice as both Datsyuk and Kovalchuk potted goals. Then, in the eight round after Quick made an excellent save on a Kovalchuk wrister, Oshie skated down the ice and ended up flipping a soft wrist shot up over Bobrovsky and into the net to give the US a hard fought 3-2 victory.
Team USA will look to clinch a berth in the quarterfinal on Sunday morning when they take on Slovenia. The game will begin at 6:30am, and can be seen on NBCSN.