U.S. hockey team pulls off ‘Miracle’ 2.0

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U.S. hockey team pulls off ‘Miracle’ 2.0


Kavitha A. Davidson

In a Winter Olmpics full of anticlimactic finishes for Team USA, T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues assured that one of the Games’ most anticipated matchups - the United States versus Russia in hockey - lived up to its hype.

After 65 thrilling minutes that included an American power play and a breakaway by the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane during overtime, the standoff went to a shootout. Russian Ilya Kovalchuck scored in the third round to send the shootout to sudden death, where the 27-year-old Oshie simply took over, sinking three of the next five shootout attempts, including the final goal that sent the U.S. team to a 3-2 win.

This win - in a preliminary round, against an old foe, in front of a hostile crowd - was huge. More than three decades after the storied “Miracle on Ice,” the U.S.-Russia rivalry has been renewed and is as fierce as ever, as evidenced by the tussle between players Ryan Callahan and Evgeny Medvedev early in the game. The high tensions naturally brewed controversy: Russian Fedor Tyutin blasted what appeared to be the go-ahead goal past U.S. goaltender Jonathan Quick with fewer than five minutes remaining in the third period, but the goal was disallowed after review, much to the chagrin of the Russian crowd.

Team USA still has much work to do. Despite the dramatic finish, the victory wasn’t quite ideal. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun notes that under international rules, an extra-time win is awarded two, not three, points, meaning that one of the other undefeated teams (Canada, Sweden or Finland) could get ranked ahead of the United States by winning the rest of the preliminary games in regulation. The ranking affects quarterfinal matchups, integral in the ultimate quest for gold.

The U.S. can still enjoy its hard-fought victory, but only briefly. The team faces Slovenia tomorrow. For Russia, the loss is palpable; today’s clash was a matter of national pride and lofty expectations. Russian President Vladimir Putin himself touted the significance of the game, an important step to redemption for a Russian hockey team that finished sixth in the 2010 Vancouver Games. As NBC’s Doc Emrick put it: “Many people paid many rubles hoping to see the home team win. Not tonight.”

By Kavitha A. Davidson Bloomberg View columnist
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