Los Angeles Times
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 16, 2014
SOCHI, Russia >> T.J. Oshie had only one concern when coach Dan Bylsma called his name six times during the shootout that would settle Team USA’s preliminary-round game against Russia.
“I was just thinking of something else I could do to try to keep them guessing,” said Oshie, whose shootout success with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues helped him win an Olympic berth. “I had to go back to the same move a couple times, but I was glad it ended when it did. I was running out of moves there.”
Unlike the NHL, international rules permit players to take multiple shootout attempts after three rounds. Oshie, varying his maneuvers just enough, scored on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky in the first, fifth, sixth and eighth rounds Saturday as the U.S. squeezed out a 3-2 victory in a thriller at the Bolshoy Ice Palace before a crowd that included Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It was a hard-fought battle and a great test for our team,” Oshie said. “They’re a really high-caliber elite team and I think that was a very good character team win for us.”
The pace was breathtaking. The Americans were physical and blocked shots fearlessly. The Russians dazzled with their skill and creativity.
“You had two really good teams out there playing and the buzz in the air and the energy in the crowd was everything and more than what we expected,” said Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, who scored the first U.S. goal when a shot went off his skate during a second-period power play. “It was a really fun game to play in.”
Los Angeles Kings and U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick, who stopped 29 shots in regulation and overtime, made clutch saves on Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk in the seventh and eighth rounds. Thanks to the curious choices of Russia coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, he didn’t face NHL goal-scoring leader Alexander Ovechkin. Evgeni Malkin took one shot, Datsyuk took three, and Kovalchuk took four.
Quick’s glove save on Kovalchuk set the stage for Oshie to get the better of Bobrovsky, who plays for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky called the loss “heartbreaking,” but Kovalchuk shrugged it off.
“It’s OK. Nothing terrible has happened,” Kovalchuk said. “We played good and showed our character.”