Russia slips by Slovakia in shootout

Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk (R) celebrates after his game winning shootout goal on Slovakia with...

Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk (R) celebrates after his game winning shootout goal on Slovakia with teammates Alexander Syomin, Alexander Radulov (C) and Alexander Ovechkin (rear) during their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 16, 2014. (REUTERS)

QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

Russia's hockey team may not have lost its way on home soil as feared at the Sochi Games.

Unable for 65 minutes of hockey to beat little-known Slovakia goalie Jan Laco, Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov both scored in the shootout to give Russia a badly needed 1-0 win.

The Russians finish the round-robin portion of the tournament with a 2-1 record. The Slovaks are 0-3.

Even with the win, Russia's top scorers have fired blanks for the past two games. Alex Ovechkin, for example, had six shots but was held pointless for the second straight outing.

The Russians are facing enormous pressure in these Olympics, with many citizens linking the overall success of the Games to the hockey team's performance.

Slovakia's Laco faced 36 shots Sunday, including 15 in the third period alone.

The result means Russia will likely have to play in the qualification playoffs instead of receiving one of four buys to the quarterfinals.

In another game Sunday, the red-hot Americans thumped Slovenia 5-1 to end the round-robin with a 3-0 record.

Ryan Miller made 17 saves for the U.S. while Phil Kessel had a hat-trick to become the leading scorer in the Olympic tournament.

 


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