February 18, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Slovaks, who lost their opener to the Czech Republic, now turn around and face perhaps the tournament's most explosive team less than 24 hours later.
Slovakia had an impressive third-period push, leaving the Czechs without a shot until three minutes left, but can that carry over to their game against Russia (midnight, EST; U.S. TV: CNBC, joined in progress whenever they get around to it)?
Will the Slovaks have enough in the tank to play 60 minutes with Ovechkin and the boys?
Jaroslav Halak(notes) (Montreal Canadiens) gets the start for Slovakia after giving up three goals and making 21 saves in the loss to Czech Republic. Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) of the Phoenix Coyotes starts for Russia. Dmitry says we're seeing a power-play unit of Malkin, Ovechkin, Semin, Kovalchuk and Gonchar tonight. Yikes.
We'll be offering live thoughts on this game throughout the evening/morning (hi, East Coast). Use the comments as an open thread, and check back here for news and views.
(Live Blogging after jump.)
Coming into the game, I was of two minds about the Slovaks: They were going to be sharp after playing last night, but they were eventually going to run out of gas. We'll see about the latter theory, but the former's held solid: The Slovaks weathered a Russian power play, did what they needed to in front of Halak and threatened Bryzgalov a few times. Good start.
Russia 1-0 (5:32, 2nd)
Alexei Morozov gives the Russians the 1-0 lead on a one-timer that deflected off of Andrej Sekera's(notes) skate and over the shoulder of the luckless Halak. Andrei Markov(notes) gets the primary assist.
Moments earlier, Bryzgalov made the save of the game shorthanded. The Russian Superstar power play coughed up the puck at the blue line, Marian Hossa(notes) tracked it down and raced into the Russia zone. He sent a pinpoint pass to Pavol Demitra(notes), and Bryz slid over to make the save. A real "ohh" and "ahh" moment. Or maybe someone in the upper deck dropped their water bottle filled with vodka. One of the two.
At 18:03, Halak's save of the game candidate. Evgeni Malkin(notes) danced around the Slvak defense to the corner and sent a laser pass to Max Afinogenov's tape. He deflected it just as Halak slid over with his pad. Outstanding pass, outstanding conversion, but the goalie was just a bit better. It was his 21st save of the night, and we're 1-0 Russia after two. Ovechkin will begin the third in the box for a slash that voided a Richard Zednik(notes) breakaway, and we'll skate 4-on-4 because Slovakia had already taken their second too many men penalty of the night.
Slovakia 1-1 (9:48, 3rd)
It took a blast from Marian Hossa to solve Bryzgalov, who had made 23 saves until the Chicago Blackhawks sniper sent the puck through his five-hole off a great feed from Pavol Demitra, who sent the pass from corner to slot.
The Slovaks have the energy now; amazing to think they were skating with the Czechs less than 24 hours ago.
Josef Stumpel deked, cut left and tucked the puck behind Bryzgalov. After Morozov shot high and Demitra was poke-checked, a rarity: Ovechkin scoring in the shootout, with a hard shot the tricked off Halak's pad and in. Marian Hossa was stopped by a sprawling Bryz.
Datsuyk, for the win ... and a poke check from Halak. Amazing.
Round 4: Ovechkin again, and he lost the handled on a bouncing puck.
Stumpel tries to go five hole, and nothing.
Round 5: Ilya Koalchuk skates in and misses the net.
Slovakia sends out Michel Handzus, and Bryzgalov stones him.
Round 6: Ovechkin ... again. Halak plays him perfectly and Ovechkin just misses the net wide.
Gaborik for Slovakia, and Bryzgalov stops him with the shoulder.
Round 7: Malkin for Russia. Skates right, cuts left, waits too long and hits the side of the net. Great positioning again by Halak.
It's Demitra, and a soft shot off the iron and into the net ends it. Slovakia mobs him. The fans are insane.
Slovakia 2-1 over Russia in the shootout. Wow.