US Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Preview and Prediction: USA vs. Russia
18 February, 2018, 06:29
That's where the similarities end.
The Americans were displeased with what they considered poor sportsmanship on the part of the Russians, including the fact that they sent out their main power play unit late in the third period with a 4-0 lead, which customarily doesn't happen.
Things tilted even further when Sergei Andronov held the puck away from US defender Bobby Sanguinetti and passed it to Kovalchuk, whose shot went under Zapolski's arm and in with 0.2 seconds left in the second. The Russians hemmed the U.S.in its zone late, and the fatigue took its toll as the game went on.
Ryan Zapolski made 22 saves but for the first time, looked out of place on the Olympic platform.
Granato doubled down after the loss on his pretournament comment that the US doesn't "need a miracle" to win.
Then, Kovalchuk hammered a slap shot with.2 seconds remaining in the middle frame to extend OAR's lead to three and prevent the US from mounting any sort of comeback.
Zapolski also allowed two goals to Nikolai Prokhorokin, a 2012 Los Angeles Kings draft pick. "Good players are able to score goals like that, and those are some of their better players so they found a way to score".
This night lacked the tense political subtext of the Cold War from the teams' 1980 meeting and the pomp and circumstance of Russian President Vladimir Putin attending and the pressure on the home team in Sochi in 2014, but it had the same kind of in-arena atmosphere.
The U.S. squad is competing without players from clubs in North America's National Hockey League (NHL), which announced in April that it would not schedule a break for the Olympics in the 2017-18 season.
Entering the game, the Russians looked as if they had better players than the US, and that showed in each team's final preliminary-round game.
The red-clad Russians opened the scoring 7:21 into the game, the unguarded Prokhorkin at the crease tapped in Sergei Mozyakin's pass.
That might not be a bad thing for Tony Granato's team, having to play an extra game to find some sort of rhythm - and maybe some scoring, too. "I'm sure we'll see them again later in the tournament and I think the outcome will be a lot different". Koshechkin stopped all 29 shots he faced for his first shutout of the tournament.
"We knew they had a ton of talent", Granato said.
The U.S. will regret several missed opportunities, most notably Brian Gionta's failed breakaway attempt midway through the middle frame and Ryan Donato's wrist shot that rang off the crossbar. The Americans now have five goals in three games, and a goaltender who is suddenly leaking them.
The political rivals stirred passions long before players began warming up as rowdy fans waved Russian and USA flags with chants of "U-S-A" and "Russ-i-a" - screaming that only grew louder as the game unfolded in an intense setting.
"It's a disappointment. We've got to reset ourselves and come back and play our way in", U.S. captain Brian Gionta said.
On this stage, the result is all that matters.
The U.S. team will participate in a qualification playoff on February 20. "They played a hard, physical game and they were the better team tonight".
It was the second for the Czechs in just eight shots on Ben Scrivens, who got a second consecutive start in net for Canada. Dominik Kubalik and Michal Jordan scored in regulation for the Czechs, who edged South Korea 2-1 in their opener.
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