Blackhawks’ Olympic Effort: Day 5
The day started with a Austria/Norway game that ended as a 3-1 win for Austria, thanks to two goals by Michael Grabner. Norway have yet to win a game in the Olympics tournament, while this was Austria’s first win.
Afternoon games in Sochi involved two teams with Blackhawks players: the USA, who played against Slovenia, and Slovakia, who played Russia.
The first period of the USA/Slovenia game saw Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Phil Kessel score a minute into the game on a beautiful play that blinded the Slovenian goalie. Kessel would score a second goal barely 3 minutes later, giving his team a 2-goal lead that they’ll keep throughout the period. Slovenia found their feet after Kessel’s second goal and got some chances to score on goaltender Ryan Miller, but they were denied.
In the second frame, Slovenia kept on attacking and team USA looked a bit dormant, but it only lasted for so long; just past the halfway point of the game, Phil Kessel scored again, making it his first ever Olympic hat trick (second of the tournament after Canada’s Jeff Carter’s). His goal would be quickly followed by New York Rangers D-man Ryan McDonagh’s, which made the game a 4-0 affair.
The third period also allowed two goals, one by David Backes to put USA 5-0 up, and then, 17 seconds before the end of regulation time, Slovenia finally managed to get on the scoreboard with a goal by assistant captain Marcel Rodman. It would be the end of the game, a 5-1 victory by team USA. Their 2 regulation wins and 1 shootout win gives them 8 points, putting them on top of Group A and straight to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
For Slovakia, the first two periods would go scoreless against Russia, despite some solid chances on both sides. Ilya Kovalchuk got hurt in the second frame, what looks to be a lower-body injury. In the third period, Russia finally opened the scoring, only to find the goal to be disallowed, and they would not manage to put another one in before the end of the period, and neither did Slovakia.
The game went to overtime, stayed scoreless, and headed out to a shootout, the second in two games for Russia. Michal Handzus was the first shooter for Slovakia and missed, his late shot saved by goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Alexander Radulov shot for Russia and scored. Tomas Tatar was the second shooter for Slovakia and his shot was saved, putting Russia up 1-0. Russia’s second shooter would be Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored and gave the win to Russia, giving them 2 more points to get them to 6 points, second in group A.
The last game of the day was Canada/Finland, that started right off the bat with over 8 minutes of uninterrupted play; Canada opened fire in the first frame with a strange goal that would end up being disallowed. The puck was sent to the top of Tuukka Rask’s net and Rick Nash pushed it in - the puck rolled down Rask’s back and ended up in the back of the net. After review, the goal was disallowed, but 13 minutes into the game, on a powerplay caused by Jarko Immonen’s interference penalty, Drew Doughty scored for Canada on a rocket of a shot coming from the blue line. A few minutes later, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had a chance on a wraparound goal, a great individual effort, but the puck stayed out of the net, covered by Rask’s body.
In the second frame, the game kept at a steady pace - very fast, full of skill, on both sides. Canada dominated the first half of the period but Finland were the ones that got themselves on the board and made it a wide open game at the end of the second period. 18 minutes in, on a solid shot from Ossi Vaananen, Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu got the puck behind goaltender Carey Price. The rest of the period would go without any more goals, and so would the 3rd period, even though chances were coming from all lines for both teams.
The game would head to overtime, and would see a new overtime hero come out for Canada, as Drew Doughty shot from the faceoff dot, straight past Rask, to earn Canada the win. Both Finland and Canada are through to the quarterfinals, along with Sweden and the USA.
Tomorrow are the women’s hockey semifinals, and the men’s qualifying rounds are on Tuesday, with: