It took eight rounds in a shootout, but USA beat Russia on Saturday, 3-2, and improved to 2-0 in Group A. Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points.
GOLD STAR: Team USA won the game, but Pavel Datsyuk was the best player on the ice for either team. Datsyuk scored both of Russia’s goals during regulation, finished with six shots on net in 20:45 of ice time and won 14-of-22 face-offs while dominating at both ends of the ice. The first goal was a beauty: Datsyuk gathered speed through the neutral zone and blew right up the middle between John Carlson and Brooks Orpik both badly out of position. He also scored in the shootout as well for a Russia team that needed eight rounds in order to decide a winner. That’s not bad for a player that was supposed to be hampered by an injury going into the Olympic tournament.
BLACK EYE: Alex Radulov finished with an assist and one shot on goal in 20:47 of ice time, and did a good job of screening Jonathan Quick on Pavel Datsyuk’s second goal of the game. But the Russian skill forward also took a couple of bad penalties, including a cheap shot on Dustin Brown that led to Team USA’s first goal for Cam Fowler. His hooking penalty in the third period also led to Team USA’s power play goal for Joe Pavelski, so he achieved serious “goat boy” status for the Russians in a game where they outplayed the Americans for majority of the game.
TURNING POINT: It appeared the Russians had the game won in regulation when Fedor Tyutin scorched a point shot past Jonathan Quick to give Team Russia a 3-2 lead, but the goal was disallowed by the referees. NBCSN replays showed that Quick had dislodged the net when things got a little dicey in his own end, and the net was off the moorings with Tyutin scored on his rocket. That allowed Team USA to dodge a bullet when Russia was pouring it on – they’d narrowly missed taking the lead on a Ilya Kovalchuk shot right before the Tyutin blast – and hold on until overtime and the shootout.
HONORABLE MENTION: T.J. Oshie scored on four of his six shootout attempts and ended up netting the game-winner while matching moves and steel nerves with Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk. Oshie featured a slow-motion style and a flurry of moves on Sergei Bobrovsky, and never blinked while showing why the Team USA management group considered him a shootout specialist when building their roster. Oshie played less than 10 minutes during the actual game prior to the shootout, but he was the reason that Team USA won in the end. Nice job by David Poile, Ray Shero, Brian Burke and Co. making sure Oshie was included on this team.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – the game-high number of shots on goal for Alex Ovechkin and Phil Kessel in a game where both speedy snipers were kept off the board.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Just score goals. Just score as many goals as you can, and keep the goaltender guessing. I was telling the boys I was running out moves. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I got through it.” –T.J. Oshie to Pierre McGuire on NBCSN after the USA/Russia 3-2 shutout win in overtime where he took five extra shootout rounds after the initial three shooters.