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Russia falls in Slovakia shootout

Friday, 02.19.2010 / 11:29 AM ET / News
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Russia falls in Slovakia shootout
VANCOUVER – Perhaps somebody forgot to inform the Slovaks that they had drawn the short straw in this 2010 Olympic hockey tournament. Or maybe they figured, having confounded the skeptics and the schedule-maker four years ago by going undefeated in pool play in Torino, they simply were being perfectly set up to shock the hockey world yet again.

Whatever the case, the little country that supposedly couldn't somehow found a way Thursday night at Canada Hockey Place. It took a third-period comeback. And it took seven rounds of a shootout -- three of which saw Alex Ovechkin shoot against them.

But at the end of a second straight long, withering night, it was the Slovaks who were still standing -- 2-1 victors over the powerhouse from Russia. And now, a talent-laden Group B that seemingly was set up for a Russia-Czech Republic showdown to decide first place on Rivalry Sunday is suddenly a three-horse race in which nobody can be ruled out.

"We still have a pretty good chance to be No. 1 in our group," Ovechkin said after a game in which he was a bodychecking dynamo but held off the scoresheet other than going 1-for-3 in his shootout attempts.

Ovechkin is correct -- a Russian victory in regulation Sunday would give it the Group B title regardless of the results of the Czech-Latvia game Friday night or the Slovakia-Latvia game Saturday. However, whatever veneer of invincibility the Russians brought into this tournament is now gone.

Then again, so is the notion that the Slovaks were doomed by coming in with a banged-up Marian Gaborik and Marian Hossa and having to open the tournament by playing back-to-back games against the Czech Republic and Russia.

"It's a huge win for us," said Slovakia captain Zdeno Chara, who waged a night-long physical war with Ovechkin. "It's a tough schedule. When you play back to back against such great teams as the Czechs and Russia, it's always exhausting. You're playing within 24 hours in really hot conditions. The ice is probably not the greatest because there have been two or three games going on it. So it's tough.

"But we found a way to win a game."

They found a way by riding superb goaltending from the Montreal Canadiens' Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 36 of 37 Russian shots during the 60 minutes of regulation and the five of overtime, and then six of the seven he faced in the shootout from the likes of Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Evgeni Malkin.

Ovechkin, in fact, shot three times -- scoring on his first -- because IIHF rules allow the same shooter to go as often as the coach desires after the first three shooters have taken their turns.

"It was crazy because, in NHL, they can only go once and here they keep going with same guy after the first three shooters," Halak said. "It was crazy to see. But lucky for us, we got the (victory)."

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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