Russia denied game-winning goal, Oshie scores 4 in shootout

Team USA's Cam Fowler scores on Russia's goalie Sergei Bobrovski during second period action at the...

Team USA's Cam Fowler scores on Russia's goalie Sergei Bobrovski during second period action at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, in Sochi, Russia, on Saturday February 15, 2014. (Al Charest/QMI Agency)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:51 PM ET

When they thought about this idea of NHLers playing in the Olympics, of what the Olympics could look like with the best hockey players in the world in their country's colours (neon, Slovenia, really?), it looked something like this.

Sixty-five minutes of two trains colliding in front of a thunderous crowd -- the Bolshoy Ice Dome actually rumbled at one point -- and, finally, American T.J. Oshie rummaging near the bottom of a bag of sublime shootout moves to ruin the afternoon of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

And this is still the preliminary round.

Oshie shot six times in the shootout and scored four times, the last giving the U.S. a 3-2 win over Russia with Putin on hand for the first big game of the Olympic hockey tournament.

"It was awesome. Whatever type of game you want to explain it as," said American forward Joe Pavelski, "it was that."

After the teams slugged their way through a 2-2 draw after regulation -- Pavel Datsyuk had both Russian goals, the American power play had both of theirs and Russia had a would-be winning goal stunningly disallowed -- the shootout that followed made this an epic afternoon.

The U.S. now has five points atop Pool 1 while the Russians have four. (With a win over Finland Sunday, Canada has the potential to finish with the best record in the preliminary round and get the most favourable seeding for the elimination round.)

"That may live in infamy, what happened there," said American forward David Backes.

His success in the shootout was one reason why Oshie was put on the American team. He leads the NHL this season with a 70% success rate in the shootout (7-for-10). U.S. coach Dan Bylsma sent out Oshie (he scored on Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky), James van Riemsdyk (stopped) and Pavelski (stopped). The Russians countered against American goaltender Jonathan Quick with Evgeni Malkin and Datsyuk -- both stopped -- and Ilya Kovalchuk, whose goal kept the shootout drama going.

Under IIHF rules, after three shooters, there are no restrictions on who can go to centre ice.

Bylsma's no dummy.

He knows the stats.

He stuck with Oshie.

The Russians countered with the heavyweight tag team of Kovalchuk and Datsyuk.

It went eight rounds deep with both sides having three goals when Oshie ended it, again starting the way he did every time -- slowly winding to his right and then cutting into the middle. He ripped a shot through Bobrovsky's legs and it was over.

"I was just trying to think of something else I could do, trying to keep him guessing," said Oshie. "I had to go back to the same move a couple of times and I was glad it ended when it did. I was running out of moves there."

Backes, Oshie's roommate with the St. Louis Blues, stood on the bench and thought "better him than me.

"(Shooter) No. 8, they might have started to look to somebody like me in a situation like that (in the NHL). And I tell you what, it wouldn't have been that pretty," he said.

"You get to see the full gamut of the guys' moves. Datsyuk, Kovalchuk, same thing. Kovalchuk rips the one high glove and then all of a sudden he does that little fadeaway flipper shot. I don't know how you do that, but I might practise that on Monday. It's just one of those things where it's fantastic to watch for the fans."

Oshie was cool throughout. Backes was asked if his friend has a slow heartbeat.

"No, he's got a fast heartbeat," he said. "Somebody asked me what kind of dog he would be if he was a dog. I said he's a Jack Russell terrier. He needs his attention directed or else he gets into a little mischief and he needs it guided.

"Today it was all functioned and funnelled in the right way. He does some amazing things when it is."

Might not many dogs have involuntarily relieved themselves in that situation?

"He's a well potty-trained Jack Russell terrier," said Backes.

Saturday's shootout will go down in Olympic lore, along with the winning shot in 1994 that saw Sweden's Peter Forsberg beat Canada's Corey Hirsch with an outstretched deke that made the Swede famous.

Hirsch, like the rest of the hockey world, was watching Saturday.

"Ummmm.....," he tweeted, "Can we stop talking about Peter Forsberg goal now?"

Maybe for a little while.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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