It's amazing what can happen in the span of a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. The United States gained a new national hero, the sport of hockey became the talk of an entire nation, an unknown player blew up the Internet and gained 50,000 Twitter followers in a few minutes, and the 2014 Winter Olympics found its iconic moment.
After 65 minutes of tremendous, heart-stopping hockey filled with some of the best players in the world, a shootout seemed to be the worst possible way to end the most anticipated and talked-about moment of the Sochi Olympics. Then T.J. Oshie stole the show and became a household name.
Oshie ended an eight-round shootout by beating Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky through the five-hole to give the United States a 3-2 victory over Russia in front of a packed stadium in Sochi. Oshie had all four shootout goals for the U.S., as Olympic rules permit that a player can be used multiple times during the sudden-death portion of the shootout. Russia alternated between Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk to face U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick.
The shootout featured some outstanding moves, including Kovalchuk's sixth-round goal that he softly lobbed over the left shoulder of Quick while skating in the opposite direction. Oshie flashed some brilliant moves as well, exhibiting the skill that solidified his spot of the United States roster. Oshie is one of the best shootout scorers in the NHL, making 70 percent of his attempts this season. He was 4-for-6 against Russia, with his last goal setting off celebrations around the nation as fans were congregated in bars even at the wee hours of the morning. Oshie's opportunity to become what some called a "national hero" came after Quick made a sprawling save on Kovalchuk's eighth-round bid, sliding across the goal to get a piece of the shot at the last possible moment.
Each team had a chance to end the game prior to the shootout, as a late Russia goal deflected in by Alexander Radulov was nullified after officials ruled that the U.S. goal had come off its moorings. According to IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) rules, no goal is allowed if the net is displaced or if the net is not completely flat against the ice. Video replay seemed to show goalie Jonathan Quick dislodging the net during play, but the officials did not allow the goal nor did Quick receive a penalty. After the game Quick stated that he did not know the net was dislodged, but some of the Russian players thought that Quick had knocked the net off on purpose to get a stop in the action.
The United States had a golden opportunity in the overtime period, as Patrick Kane was sprung for a breakaway which was stopped by Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky had 31 saves for Russia, while Quick had 29 saves for the United States.
Pavel Datsyuk had both goals for Russia, while Cam Fowler and Joe Pavelski scored for the United States.
The win gives the U.S. a chance to clinch a first-round bye in the elimination rounds with a win over Slovenia on Sunday. Russia could also clinch a bye with a win over Slovakia and some help from the Slovenia squad, or they could get a bye if they have the most points from teams finishing second in their group. The two teams could face each other again for a shot at the medals, but it's hard to imagine the sequel living up to what the original produced on Saturday morning.