The Russian hockey team was sabotaged by Team Canada's pressure and intensity in the first period Wednesday, and Alex Ovechkin was helpless to make a difference skating against big bodies like right wing Rick Nash and defenseman Shea Weber.
Ten goals were scored in a stunning 7-3 Canadian victory -- and Ovechkin, the back-to-back Hart Trophy winner, factored into none of them. Neither did his archrival, Sidney Crosby, but No. 87's team won the quarterfinal matchup going away, so nobody was talking about him.
Ovechkin, on the other hand, was a major topic of discussion after the game because he finished with a minus-2 rating, only three shots on goal and an empty feeling heading back to Washington.
"I think how we start the game it's like small kids and big kids play against each other and big kids dominate," Ovechkin told NHL.com shortly after it was all over for Russia in these Olympics. "They got the puck deep, used their power and they scored goals. We had to at that time realize and bounce back, but it was pretty hard to when the score is 3-0. It's pretty hard."
Ovechkin and his linemates, Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin, never could get untracked.
Not only were they victimized time and again by the five-man unit Canadian coach Mike Babcock deployed against them, they were also on the ice for goals by Nash and Weber. Jonathan Toews, Mike Richards and Scott Niedermayer also had a hand in holding Ovi and his buddies down.
Basically what the Canadians did was throw Ovechkin's game right back in his face. They came hard and they were relentless in their physicality. They forced Ovechkin, Malkin and Semin to play defense by getting pucks deep into the zone and cycling.
"I think how we start the game it's like small kids and big kids play against each other and big kids dominate. They got the puck deep, used their power and they scored goals. We had to at that time realize and bounce back, but it was pretty hard to when the score is 3-0. It's pretty hard." -- Alex Ovechkin"The game plan was to put as much pressure on their defense as we could so they didn't have free long outlet passes," Babcock said. "If you're a forward and your D is putting it on your tape all night long, you're coming with speed. If as the D-man your face is in the glass, it's hard to make a play and it slows your forwards down.
"Nash lined up against (Ovechkin) and Weber lined up against him most of the night, and they're big bodies and they played hard."
Ovechkin had no answers for it.
"Well, I'm disappointed," he said. "It's life. Again, it's a bad time for us, for our team, but it is what it is."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org