February 19, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Moments after his team was stunned in a seven-round shootout by Slovakia, 2-1, Russia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes said the upset validated his belief that the gold medal is hardly exclusive to the hockey tournament favorites.
"Why is everybody always talking about Russia and Canada in the final? Guys, you're too rushed," he said to the media. "There are too many good teams out there. Be careful with your predictions."
Canada had its own scare earlier on Thursday, outlasting the Swiss in a four-round shootout for a dramatic 3-2 victory via Sidney Crosby's clutch goal. Russia wasn't as fortunate: Unable to convert on the power play; unable to solve goalie Jaroslav Halak, whose only goal allowed was on a deflected puck; and unable to put away a Slovakian team that played in an intense and exhausting loss to Czech Republic less than 24 hours earlier.
The winning shootout goal came from Pavol Demitra of the Vancouver Canucks, on his second attempt of the night. (Olympic rules permit shooters multiple attempts after the first three shots; Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, for example was 1-for-3 against Halak.)
He skated in on Bryzgalov and banked the puck off the left post and into the back of the net.
"That was a great move by me," Demitra said, without a wink. "Obviously, I had a second chance and I was going from the other side. I wait, wait, wait to make the first move and I chip it over him."
Demitra and his team should have been burnt out by the end; but they rallied to tie in the third period and carried the play for much of the overtime -- leading to the tournament's first upset, and a critical moment for favored Russia heading into Sunday's grudge match with the Czechs.
Demitra said when pride is on the line, fatigue isn't a factor. "When you play for your country in the Olympics ... you have one chance in your life. You have to do whatever you can."