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It looked over early, but Slovenia rallied to put a scare into Russia before eventually falling 5-2 in the opening game of the Olympic tournament for both teams.
Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin gave Russia a 2-0 lead by the time four minute had passed in the first period. The Slovenian players admitted they were in a bit of awe at the start playing their country's first ever Olympic game. It was looking like it was going to be a Russian romp, especially after shots were 18-4 in favor of the leader after 20 minutes, but Slovenia rallied in the second period to provide hope for an upset.
Ziga Jeglic, who plays for ERC Ingolstadt in Germany's DEL, cut the lead to 2-1 1:43 into second period, but later watched from the penalty box as Ilya Kovachuk scored to double the Russian lead.
“I was really mad at myself because I made a stupid penalty and we know that their power play is top of the world," Jeglic said afterward. "We were really preparing for them, but you can’t really prepare."
Jeglic made up for his penalty by again cutting the lead in half with a goal 1:04 after Kovalchuk's.
Entering the final 20 minutes, Russia was hanging onto a 3-2 lead and the hockey world was wondering if the Slovenians could pull off the upset.
"When you get to 2-0 so quickly you feel like it's going to be easy," said Ovechkin. "That's why we stopped playing."
But alas, it wasn't the be. The Russian exerted their power in the final period and pulled away after a pair of goals from Valeri Nichushkin and Anton Belov 3:04 apart deflated the Slovenia sails and clinched victory for the home side.
One win down for the Russians and big test on Saturday against a U.S. side that demolished Slovakia 7-1 Thursday. With a game under their belt, they feel they will be better prepared for what's next.
"The team had a couple of mistakes, but I think the pressure and the [nerves] that we have before the game, that was the result," said Ovechkin.
"I’m pretty sure the next game is going to be much better for us.”
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