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Blues' T.J. Oshie leads U.S. hockey over Russia

United States 0 1 1 0 3
Russia 0 1 1 0 2
United States wins shootout 4-3
SOCHI, Russia — T.J. Oshie kept jumping over the boards, hoping he had a few tricks left in his bag that might fool his opponent. Should he deke? Go backhand? Perhaps lift one top shelf?

Oshie had studied Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky on video and figured a few of his favorite moves wouldn't work in a shootout against the Blue Jackets' No. 1 and last season's winner of the NHL's Vezina Trophy (top goalie).

The Blues center eventually ran out of fresh ideas, but he kept hearing his name called, and the pressure kept building, and the crowd grew louder, and the moment kept forcing him to improvise. "I had to go back to the same moves a couple of times," he said. "I told some of the boys on the last couple, 'I'm running out of moves out here.' "

On his sixth shootout attempt, he chose wisely and buried the puck in the net.

Oshie's goal in the eighth round of the shootout gave the United States a 3-2 victory against Russia on Sunday that, thought it was only a preliminary-round game, had people calling it one of the best games they had seen.

The entire game was international hockey at its most compelling. And the third period was a thriller.

The Sharks' Joe Pavelski scored for the Americans on a power play with 10:33 to play to give them a 2-1 lead, but Russia's Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings tied it with 7:16 left on a power play, spurring Russian President Vladimir Putin out of his seat in the arena to cheer.

In one of the game's most pivotal moments, Russia had an apparent goal wiped out with less than five minutes left in regulation because the net came off the moorings. Under international rules, a goal is disallowed if the net "has been displaced from its normal position, or the frame of the goal net is not completely flat on the ice."

Russian defenseman Slava Voynov of the Kings said goalie Jonathan Quick, his Kings teammate, may have pushed the net off on purpose. "I know him; he sometimes does these things," Voynov said.

Quick said he didn't realize the net had come unmoored. "You need to catch some breaks to win games," he said.

Then the spotlight settled on Oshie.

Per Olympic rules, teams can use any player as many times as they desire once the shootout goes past the third round. U.S. coach Dan Bylsma of the Penguins selected Oshie first (he scored) and then again in Rounds 4-8.

Oshie was one of the last players to make the cut for the team, and his shootout ability was one of his selling points. He is third in NHL career shootout percentage among players with a minimum of 20 goals (25-of-46, 54.3 percent), and this season he is tied for the league lead with seven goals (in 10 attempts).

Bylsma said the plan was to use Oshie for as long as the shootout lasted.

"I aged a couple of years in that shootout," Bylsma said.

The Russians were disappointed but kept the game in perspective.

"Everything is okay; nothing terrible has happened," forward and former NHL player Ilya Kovalchuk said. "Everything will be decided in the semifinal and the final."

The preliminary round ends today with the United States facing Slovenia and Russia playing Slovakia.

United States 0 1 1 0 3
Russia 0 1 1 0 2
United States wins shootout 4-3

First—No scoring. Penalties—Blake Wheeler, United States (Tripping); Ilya Nikulin, Russia (holding).

Second—1, Russia, Pavel Datsyuk (Andrei Markov, Alexander Radulov), 9:15. 2, United States, Cam Fowler (James van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel), 16:34 (pp). Penalties—Max Pacioretty, United States (holding); Fyodor Tyutin, Russia (cross-checking); David Backes, United States (cross-checking); Alexander Radulov, Russia (cross-checking); Patrick Kane, United States (hooking).

Third—3, United States, Joe Pavelski (Patrick Kane, Kevin Shattenkirk), 9:27 (pp). 4, Russia, Pavel Datsyuk (Andrei Markov), 12:44 (pp). Penalties—Dustin Brown, United States (interference); Alexander Radulov, Russia (hooking); Dustin Brown, United States (kneeing); Yevgeni Medvedev, Russia (interference).

OT—No scoring.

Shootout—Russia 3 (Yevgeni Malkin NG, Pavel Datsyuk NG, Ilya Kovalchuk G, Ilya Kovalchuk NG, Pavel Datsyuk G, Ilya Kovalchuk G, Pavel Datsyuk NG, Ilya Kovalchuk NG), United States 4 (T.J. Oshie G, James van Riemsdyk NG, Joe Pavelski NG, T.J. Oshie NG, T.J. Oshie G, T.J. Oshie G, T.J. Oshie NG, T.J. Oshie G). Shots on Goal—Russia 13-8-7-3-0—31. United States 10-13-8-2-1—34. Goalies—Russia, Sergei Bobrovski (34 shots-31 saves). United States, Jonathan Quick (31-29).

Who is T.J. Oshie?

The Blues center, 27, wasn't a household name to even the average NHL fan before his shootout heroics against Russia. Here's a little bit about him:

What's the T.J. stand for?: Timothy Leif

Where's he from?: Oshie grew up in Warroad, Minn., population 1,770, about six miles south of the Canadian border.

His career path: Oshie led Warroad High to two state titles before playing three years in college at North Dakota. He was a Blues first-round draft pick in 2005 and entered the league in 2008. His best season has been 2011-12, with 19 goals, 35 assists.

Blues' T.J. Oshie leads U.S. hockey over Russia 02/15/14 [Last modified: Sunday, February 16, 2014 6:18pm]
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