TORONTO – Russian forward Alex Ovechkin believed he tied his team’s World Cup opening game in the final 10 seconds of the contest Sunday.
He celebrated wildly, pumped up at the possibility that Russia had erased a 2-0 deficit against Sweden in the final 33 seconds to potentially send the game to overtime. But the referee called no-goal.
After Ovechkin batted down the puck towards Jacob Markstrom’s net, Ovechkin swiped at it with his stick. Ovechkin thought he had directed the puck past the goal line with some part of either the blade or shaft, but the ref saw otherwise.
“I thought I touched it. To be honest with you I didn’t see the replay. But I feel the touch. I don’t know if it was the puck or the stick. I definitely feel the touch on my hand on my stick,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter right now. It’s over, so we have to forget about it and move forward.”
The official said the goal didn’t count because Ovechkin directed the puck in with a glove. Ovechkin pled his case that he got the puck with his stick, but video evidence seemed to back up the referee’s call.
“I didn’t see it, but I feel the touch. It wasn’t a goal. Let’s forget about it and move forward,” Ovechkin said.
The NHL situation room said, “video review supported the call on the ice that Team Russia forward Alex Ovechkin batted the puck into the net with his glove.”
Swedish defenseman Anton Stralman had Ovechkin tied up and thought Ovechkin couldn’t have possibly gotten a stick on the play.
“I went hard on his stick to take that out of the equation. I thought for sure he was going to try to bat it but it was too high anyways,” Stralman said. “That’s one of the reasons I thought that he would have a hell of a lot of effort if he was going to get his stick on that one.”
Sweden had kept Ovechkin in check for most of the game, but Ovechkin found a way to fight through their defense in the final minute to give Russia a chance to come back.
With 33.0 seconds left, he fired a seeing-eye wrist shot from the point that beat Markstrom to make the game 2-1. But unfortunately for Russia and Ovechkin, the perceived equalizer didn’t count.
Russia has not come in the top three in their last three ‘best-on-best’ tournaments – all of which have included Ovechkin. They will take on Team North America on Monday to try to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
“Obviously I think they don’t give us any room in the first two periods and we played their way,” Ovechkin said. “We just don’t have speed through the neutral zone or if we have speed we don’t have support, so we’re trying to be one- on-one and we see it’s not gonna work. I think situation is gonna be changing. You can see how we play in the third period, obviously we score only one goal in the last minute. But I think the chances was there.”
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