Electric win for the Americans


SOCHI, Russia -- At one point, U.S. coach Dan Bylsma looked around for T.J. Oshie and couldn't find him anywhere.

It was after a rare miss from the shootout specialist, who disappeared down to the opposite end of the chaotic American bench.

"He ultimately showed himself and came through with a couple of great goals," Bylsma said in the wake of an epic 3-2 victory over host Russia. It was a game that had a little bit of everything, and then some, including an eight-round shootout that saw Oshie take six of those shots, scoring four times, including the final game winner.

"I aged a couple of years in that shootout tonight, I think," the U.S. coach added.

The shootout, which in international competition is referred to as game-winning shots, allows for the same player to be called time after time if the game is still tied after the first three-shot sequence, which must be taken by different players.

"That may live in infamy, what happened there," Oshie's St. Louis Blues teammate David Backes said. "That was quite a display on both ends. Even a couple of the ones that Osh doesn't score on, [Sergei] Bobrovsky made some amazing saves on. It was great hockey on display, and we'll take the result."

One of the factors that led to Oshie's inclusion on this U.S. team was the fact he is one of the NHL's top shootout specialists. That selection paid huge dividends Saturday.

"It felt like he was going to score every time he went over the boards," Bylsma said.

But this game was so much more than its ending, as dramatic as it was, with almost every person in the Bolshoy Ice Dome -- from fans to President Vladimir Putin to the players on their respective benches -- on his or her feet anticipating the final result.

Someone likened this electric late-afternoon tilt between two historic rivals to a chess match.

Sure, assuming you play your chess at a hundred miles an hour and don't mind getting pounded into the middle of next week every time you turn around.

Backes, who spent most of the day roaming the ice mauling every Russian player with whom he came in contact, likened it to the gold-medal game the U.S. lost to Canada in Vancouver four years ago in terms of its emotion and vibe.

"That one went the wrong way at the end, so it's a bitter taste, but great hockey all of the way around," Backes said. "Again, this is what the Olympics is all about. It's guys laying it all out there, having great performances, owning your moment. I think Oshie had a pretty nice moment today."

Imagine what these two teams might produce if they met with something on the line other than seeding positions for next week's elimination games?

As it was, the Americans' 3-2 win more than lived up to its significant billing.

There was a controversial disallowed goal late in the third period that could have given the Russians a regulation victory.

There were glorious saves by Russia's Bobrovsky and his counterpart Jonathan Quick, including a lovely pad save off Evgeni Malkin on a Russian power play.

There was a breakaway by Patrick Kane in overtime and a virtuoso performance by Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk, who scored both Russian goals, this after he looked as if he was a bit hobbled in the Russians' first game of the tournament against Slovenia.

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