It took a while, but the United States drew first blood in the battle of the big boys at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
T.J. Oshie scored four times in an eight-round shootout to give the Americans a 3-2 win on a wild Saturday afternoon that turned into evening at Bolshoy Ice Dome. International Ice Hockey Federation rules allow shooters to go multiple times after the first three rounds, and U.S. coach Dan Bylsma saw no reason to go away from Oshie.
He scored in the first, fifth, sixth and eighth rounds of the shootout. Jonathan Quick's glove save on Ilya Kovalchuk in the top of the eighth round gave Oshie the chance to win the game by beating Russia goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for the winner in the bottom half.
Oshie's goals in the fifth and sixth rounds kept the shootout alive. Pavel Datsyuk, who had both of Russia's goals in regulation, gave the Russians a 2-1 shootout lead in the fifth round and Kovalchuk made it 3-2 in the sixth before Oshie beat Bobrovsky into the top right corner to tie it and keep the shootout going.
The Americans now have a chance to clinch Group A and receive an automatic bye into the quarterfinals when they play Slovenia on Sunday (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN). The No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals is still up for grabs, but the U.S. is not in control of it because Canada, Finland and Sweden have not lost any points yet in the tournament.
Patrick Kane nearly won it for the U.S. with approximately 2:30 left in overtime when he got loose on a breakaway, but Bobrovsky (31 saves) closed his five-hole just in time to stop his shot.
The Russians thought they took a 3-2 lead with 4:40 left in the third period when Fedor Tyutin's shot beat Quick (29 saves) high on the glove side, but the referees conferred and after a video review said it was not a goal. Television replays showed the net was slightly dislodged at the right post.
The United States grabbed a 2-1 lead at 9:27 of the third period with its second power-play goal of the game, one minute after Alexander Radulov was sent to the penalty box for hooking. Ryan Kesler won the faceoff in the right circle back to Kevin Shattenkirk at the point. He moved the puck down the right-wing wall to Kane, who sent a pass across the big zone to Joe Pavelski for a one-timer that beat Bobrovsky on the blocker side.
However, Russia tied it less than three minutes later when Pavel Datsyuk scored his second goal of the game, and the Russians first on five power play opportunities. Datsyuk beat Quick through the five-hole with a shot from just inside the top of the right circle 18 seconds after Dustin Brown was calling for kneeing Vladimir Tarasenko at center ice.
Radulov was also in the penalty box when Cam Fowler scored a game-tying power play goal with 3:26 left to play in the second period. That goal came more than seven minutes after Datsyuk gave the Russians a 1-0 lead.
Kane was called for hooking with 0.9 seconds left in the second period, putting Russia on the power play for nearly the full two minutes to start the third period.
The Americans, though, killed that penalty and the interference minor Brown took 3:14 into the third period. At that time it improved their penalty kill to 4-for-4 against a dangerous Russian power play that features Datsyuk, Radulov, Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Andrei Markov.
Fowler's game-tying goal was a result of a rebound off Bobrovsky's pads and a smart, heads-up pass from James van Riemsdyk. The Toronto Maple Leafs forward found the rebound in the slot and quickly pushed it across to Fowler, who had cut down from the point. Bobrovsky didn't have time to move across the crease to stop Fowler's shot from the right side.
Radulov gave the Americans the power-play opportunity when he was caught cross-checking Brown at 15:17.
Datsyuk ignited the obvious pro-Russia crowd with his artful display of skating, evasiveness and shooting to give the hosts a 1-0 lead at 9:15 of the second period.
Andrei Markov sent a stretch pass up the ice to a knifing Datsyuk, who caught it in stride and had his stick far enough ahead of him that it was hard to knock the puck away. He split Brooks Orpik and Max Pacioretty before releasing a quick and hard shot that beat Quick low on the glove side.
John Carlson was stuck too far out of position as he was attempting to cover Kovalchuk, who was close to the left-wing wall and not in a dangerous position. Pacioretty was a tad late in recovering.
American forward David Backes came within a few inches of tying the game shortly after Datsyuk's goal when he tried to redirect Ryan Suter's slap-pass into the net from the right post. However, Backes' redirect went just wide of the net. Had it been on target it would have gone in because Bobrovsky was stuck on the left post.
The U.S., though, scored a few minutes later.
Russia had a power-play opportunity just over four minutes prior to Datsyuk's goal, but the Americans killed it by blocking two key shots.
Ryan McDonagh had Alex Ovechkin's slap shot go off his back and over the net. He appeared to be in pain after the puck ricocheted off him, but McDonagh stayed on the ice.
Kesler couldn't stay on after he blocked Kovalchuk's blast with what appeared to be his left hand or wrist. The trainers went to work on Kesler on the bench, but he eventually had to leave to go to the dressing room with 12:39 left in the period.
However, the fear the Americans may have had about losing one of their top centers went away when Kesler returned a few minutes later and started to take a regular shift again.
The game started fast and it was chippy. Neither team was necessarily skating out of position to make a big hit, but there were bodies flying.
Barely five minutes into the game Ryan Callahan had already dumped Ovechkin in the corner and gotten in the face of Russian defenseman Evgeni Medvedev.
Russia had an early power play, but the Americans killed it. The U.S. had a power play that bridged the first and second periods, but the Russians killed it.
Brown had a huge hit on Evgeni Malkin. Backes and Tyutin exchanged cross checks, sending them both to the penalty box.
The intensity was likely ratcheted up by the atmosphere inside Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Air horns were blaring across the arena. Flags, mostly of the Russian variety, were everywhere. People in Section 110 were actually dressed as American flags. Fans were changing "Russ-ee-ya" throughout the game. Russia president Vladimir Putin was in the building.
It was loud, crazy, a circus-like environment. It was the Olympics at their finest.
The game didn't disappoint. Neither did the ending.