Kelli Stack scores sick off-the-body goal, meets Vladimir Putin

SOCHI, Russia — Kelli Stack scored a brilliant, off-the-body game-winning goal against Finland on Saturday, leading the U.S. women’s team to a 3-1 victory in its first preliminary-round game of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It wasn’t the first time she put one past Finnish goalie Noora Raty with that unorthodox move.

“I kinda caught it in my jersey and batted it out of the air. I’ve done that before against her in college,” said Stack.

It was an NCAA East Regional game between Stack’s Boston College team and Raty’s University of Minnesota squad. “Our defenseman shot it, I caught it, spun around and hit it in the net. I told them, ‘She’s gonna stop the first shot for sure, but the rebounds are going to go in.’”

[ Video: Highlights of the Americans' 3-1 victory over Finland ]

Against Raty in Saturday’s victory, Stack took a puck off her chest and then knocked it into the goal with her stick out of the air.

Some were calling it Ovechkin-esque.

“He’s awesome. I love him,” she said.

That’s one Russian icon that leaves her star-struck, but Stack seemed unfazed when she met another one recently: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He was taking a tour of the athletes’ village in the coastal cluster of the Sochi Olympics when the U.S. women’s team was relaxing in an athletes’ longue.

“We were just hanging out in the rec center, and somebody said he was going to be there in an hour. I was like, ‘OK.’ Then five minutes later he came over and said hi to us,” she said.

“He asked us what sport we were in, we said ‘ice hockey,’ and his eyes lit up.”

The preliminaries used to be when the U.S. would light up opponents, as the U.S. bullied Finland, 6-0, in the Vancouver opening round. But Stack said that teams like the Finns are improving to the point where those blowouts might not be commonplace.

[ Related: Women's Olympic ice hockey format gets makeover ]

“I would be nice if there were eight to 12 teams that are unbelievable, but everyone’s making a step in the right direction,” she said. “We beat Finland handily in Vancouver. Now, the last two times we played them, we won 3-1 and lost.”

The U.S. plays the Swiss on Monday in their next preliminary game. Now that Stack has scored this goal twice, can it be considered a signature move?

“It might be one. I have to see in the next game.”

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