Sochi, Russia It probably had been since pond hockey that T.J. Oshie had taken shootout shot after shootout shot.
But the St. Louis Blues forward was picked for this moment, these Olympics, and this scenario for his ability in the shootout and on the penalty kill.
2014 Winter Olympics
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On Saturday, in the early game of the Olympics, Oshie became a household name and lived up to his reputation.
After skating through regulation and five-minute overtime period, Oshie buried four of his six attempts in the shootout against Russian goalie Sergie Bobrovski, helping team U.S. to a 3-2 win at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
“I was just thinking of something else I could do,” Oshie said. “I wanted to keep them guessing. But I was running out of moves.”
After the two teams went through three shooters each, it became apparent that Oshie would be it for the United States.
Unlike NHL rules, international rules allow a player to go multiple times in the shootout.
Oshie went the past six times for the United States. He came into the Olympics with a league-leading seven NHL shootout goals.
“It’s pretty unreal. He had six shots, and he scored four times,” forward Patrick Kane said. “The ones he did miss, he had the goalie beat, too. It was pretty amazing to watch. He’s very effective in that area.”
It was almost for naught, however.
With the game tied at two late in the third period, Russia’s Fyodor Tyutin feathered a shot from the blue line past American goalie Jonathan Quick. But after review, it was determined the net was dislodged.
Had the call been made in the NHL, the goal would have stood.
“I didn’t know until after,” Quick said. “I saw it was off. I didn’t know if it happened before or after. I assume that’s why they waved it off. It was a lucky break, but you need some breaks to win games.”
In front of a raucous Russian crowd, both teams used the big surface to put on a show.
Russia started the scoring midway through the second period when a rejuvenated Pavel Datsyuk took a pass at the blue line, skated in and beat Quick for a 1-0 lead.
The Americans knotted it at 1 later in the period when James van Riemsdyk’s feed across the crease hit the tip of Cam Fowler’s skate and went in.
Joe Pavelski took a beautiful feed from Kane on the power play early in the third to give the Americans a 2-1 lead. Datsyuk got his second of the game, squeaking a power play goal past a screened Quick.
The win all but guarantees the Americans a spot in the quarterfinals. The team plays Slovenia on Sunday. But it will be hard to match what went down in Russia on Saturday.
“The atmosphere was great,” van Riemsdyk said. “Anytime it’s the U.S. and Russia on this kind of stage, it’s great.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham