For today anyway, every American hockey fan loves the shootout.
T.J. Oshie scored four times on six attempts in the skills competition to lead Team USA to a thrilling 3-2 win over Russia in their Group A showdown.
International hockey rules allow teams to use, and re-use, any shooter they wish after the initial three attempts. With both sides tied at one, American coach Dan Bylsma made the risky decision to ride Oshie all the way. The St. Louis Blues forward answered the challenge, scoring on three of his next five chances to seal the win.
At the other end of the ice, Jonathan Quick limited Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk to two goals in the extra session.
Team USA got power play goals from Cam Fowler and Joe Pavelski in regulation. Datsyuk accounted for both Russian tallies.
The Russians appeared to have the go-ahead goal late in the third period. I'm still looking for video to back this up, but it's easy to believe that the net didn't just happen to come off the mooring. Jonathan Quick was in full scramble mode immediately before he was beaten by Tyutin's shot. Clever move if it was intentional ... and wildly lucky if not.
The win gives Team USA five points through two games and an almost certain bye into the quarterfinals. A win against 1-1 Slovenia on Sunday will clinch the berth.
We live blogged today's game. If you scroll down to the bottom and work your way up, you'll get a sense of the flow of this epic.
11:08: When--not if, when--the NHL goes to South Korea in 2018, remember this game. Remember Oshie and Quick and Bobrovsky and Datsyuk and the show they put on in front of millions of Americans who otherwise who have been sleeping in on a Saturday morning. Remember the buzz this game caused on social media. This is exactly what the league was looking for when it agreed to stop down its season and take part in the Sochi Games. They might get hockey this good out of a World Cup, but they'd never generate this level of excitement. It's invaluable to the brand. And it's why they'll be back.
10:25: Greatest shootout performance before today was Jonathan Toews in the 2007 World Junior semis against Team USA. Oshie just blew that out of the water. Doesn't matter what this kid does the rest of his life. He's now and forever T.J. Sochi.
10:22: T.J. Oshie takes five consecutive attempts in the shootout, beats Bobrovsky again through the legs for the clincher. Two absolutely clutch performances for Team USA from Oshie and Quick to get that extra point. And how about Bylsma leaving Kane and Pavelski and Kessel and the rest on the bench and putting that game squarely on the shoulders of Oshie. Gutsy call that could have backfired, but he comes out looking like a genius.
10:19: Oshie again...slowly...five-hole is open... SCORES! Oshie! Team USA wins in eighth round of the shootout!
10:18: Kovalchuk again...no! What amazing patience by Quick, who followed to his left and snared it with his glove.
10:17: Datsyuk again....Quick slams the door shut. Oshie...denied on a sensational backhand move. Bob just gets the paddle on it as Oshie drives to his left and tries to beat him with the wrister.
10:16: Unbelievable...Oshie again... scores! Looks like it went off the crossbar and in off of Bobrovsky's back. Somehow, Team USA is still alive.
10:15: Kovalchuk...scores! What a beauty. Just a soft little wrister that absolutely baffled Quick. Looked like he was expecting something with a little more velocity.
10:14: Nails. Just nails. Oshie does it again, beating Bobrovsky through the legs. Lots of zip on that wrister.
10:13: Datsyuk on his second chance...scores! Nifty wrister handcuffed Quick...Oshie up again. He has to score here.
10:13: Kovalchuk denied by Quick. Oshie up for Team USA...slow...slow...no goal. What patience by Bob forcing Oshie to throw it high.
10:12: Ilya Kovalchuk...scores! Nasty wrister off the glove-side post. We go to extra shooters. Russia gets next shot.
10:11: Joe Pavelski .... stops. .. dekes ... Bobrovsky doesn't bite ... Russia needs a goal here to stay alive.
10:11: Pavel Datsyuk...amazing glove save by Quick on the backhand attempt.
10:10: van Riemsdyk's wrister denied by Bobrovsky.
10:09: Malkin up for Russia and his wrister goes off the shoulder off Jonathan Quick
10:08: Team USA up first...Oshie lazily enters zone...GOAL! Beats Bobrovsky through the five hole
10:07: Worth mentioning here that the winning team only gets two points. Loser gets one. Shouldn't come into play, but with each still having a game to play, you never know. Quick look at stats: Bobrovsky has allowed just one goal on nine shootout attempts this season for the Blue Jackets.
10:06: Ovechkin led Team Russia with seven shots today...but was that the quietest seven shots ever? Not the sort of performance you'd expect from Russia's top player with the bright lights shining down.
10:06: Anyone feeling like they made a bad choice getting up early to watch this one? Every bit as good as we could have hoped. What a terrific display of skill and determination by both sides, and both answered a lot of questions. Team USA has their man in Jonathan Quick and Team Russia is fully committed to playing both sides of the puck.
10:03: 6.2 to go...Stastny beats Malkin in a critical draw to the left of Quick. Time runs out and we're headed to the shootout.
10:02: Pavelski to Kane again! Denied down low on a backhand bid just to the left of Bobrovsky.
10:00: That was Pavelski with the pass to set up Kane on the breakaway. He's been Team USA's best player in all three zones over the past 40 minutes.
9:58: Kane with a breakaway from center ice. Game on his stick, goes five-hole, but Bobrovsky closes the wickets just in time. Wow...
9:56: Penalty time is up. Datsyuk with two shorthanded chances in the early seconds, but Quick comes up with the stops.
9:55: It's an immediate five-minute OT, with a shootout to follow if the game remains tied. Kane, Pavelski, Shattenkirk and Suter to start for Team USA
9:54: Team USA will play four-on-three for 35 seconds.
9:53: Another faceoff win by Kesler. One handed or not, the guy is a machine.
9:51: And here's the game on a platter: Medvedev to the box with 1:32 left in the third. US has two power play goals already in this one. Keep an eye on Kane...he's due.
9:50: Two minutes to go...Quick looks rattled. His positioning has been atrocious in the last 10 minutes. Sliding too far out, especially to his right.
9:46: NBCSN saying the post to the left of Quick was off the moorings, and if that's the case, it's the right call by the officials. Still, tough break for the Russians. Three minutes to go in regulation with four-on-four OT looming.
9:44: NO GOAL! Amazing--they're calling it a high stick. Stunning...didn't look like it was touched by a soul on the way to the net.
9:43: Team Russia goal! Jonathan Quick gets scrambly after a great chance by Kovalchuk, Fedor Tyutin with a heavy shot from the blueline that beats Quick high. They're looking at it now to see if it was deflected by a high stick.
9:41: Parise-Stastny-Kane over the boards for Team USA. New look as Bylsma tries to get something going at five-on-five. So far, they haven't generated much.
9:38: Team Russia goal: Datsyuk, again, on the power play. Radulov redeems himself with a terrific screen in front of Quick. Datsyuk, with all the time in the world, picks his spot far top corner. It's 2-2 with just over seven minutes remaining.
9:32: TEAM USA goal! Big win by Kesler on the draw, Kane in the corner finds Joe Pavelski for a heavy snapper that beats Bobrovsky.
9:31: Kessel a quick wrister from the top of the circle, big rebound but four Russians surround the puck and clear the zone. USA paying the price in their own end--they need to get bodies down low here.
9:30: Team USA back to the power play. Radulov going to the box again, another lazy stick infraction. 8:27 gone in the third.
9:23: Quick makes his first 10-bell stop of the game, anticipating a cross-crease pass and robbing Malkin with a glove stop. Two shots for Russia on that power play but nothing to show for them.
9:22: Some nice patient puck control by Team Russia. Radulov parks behind the net, finds Datsyuk in the slot. Shot goes just wide.
9:21: Dustin Brown goes to the box for interference, hauls down a defender deep in the Russian zone. Look for another two-minute shift from Ovechkin.
9:17: McDonagh sacrifices the body again on the PK. Team USA holds the Russians without a shot on that kill.
9:14: Datsyuk leads Russia with three shots on goal, but he's getting less ice time than Radulov. If Bilyaletdinov is half the coach everyone says he is, he addresses that in the third.
9:09: If I'm Dan Bylsma, I'm telling Patrick Kane to have his finger on the trigger in the third. He's needs to think shot every time he touches the puck. Passed up a couple of high-grade chances in the second that could have changed the complexion of this game.
9:05: Team USA outshoots Russia 13-8 in the second frame. Much more evenly played period than the first.
9:02: One stupid penalty deserves another. Patrick Kane called for a hook with .9 seconds left after hauling down a Russian forward in the corner. The Russian power play will have a clean sheet of ice to work with when the third period gets underway.
8:59: Fowler blows a tire carrying the puck through the neutral zone, Malkin picks it up and tries to drive the net but finds four American defenders impeding his path. Team USA defense has done a great job in the middle of the ice this period.
8:58: Alex Radulov was Russia's most obvious player in the first period, driving the net and creating plays in open ice. No one will remember that now after his selfish penalty. He was reacting to a Dustin Brown hit on Datsyuk--there's a time and place to exact some revenge for that one, and this wasn't it.
8:55: Terrific shift from van Riemsdyk who had a great chance earlier on the PP, then threw the puck at the hard-charging Fowler to create the goal.
8:53: TEAM USA goal! Cam Fowler drives the net, rebound goes off his skate and in the net. They're going to look at this, but it looks like a good goal. No clear kicking motion.
8:53: Radulov to the box with 4:43 left in the period. Unbelievably stupid penalty--blows Brown up in the neutral zone while the puck in 100 feet away in the American end. Team USA hasn't had any sustained pressure this period. This is a big chance to get something going.
8:49: Team USA has to be grateful that Pavel Datsyuk is playing at less than 100 percent. Aside from the game's only goal, he's been dominating on the draws and working his usual defensive magic. Best player on the ice so far today.
8:47: Great gap control by the Americans to thwart an Ovechkin chance at four-on-four
8:45: Some four-on-four hockey as David Backes and Fedor Tyutin go to the box for cross-checking.
8:44: Ryan Kesler back on the ice for Team USA. Probably less than 100 percent, but this is an all hands on deck game.
8:39: Goal by Pavel Datsyuk.
8:30: Tremendous shift by Val Nichushkin. Terrific poke check to break up a scoring chance out front by Oshie, then draws a penalty on Pacioretty. Russia to the PP.
8:25: Americans get a three-on-two, but Russians do a nice job of keeping Shattenkirk's shot to the outside.
8:25: Shots now even at 13-13 after that American power play.
8:24: Russia back at full strength.
8:23: We're underway in the second. Americans passing up a couple of quality shooting chances trying to create something pretty--they need to get the puck on the net and challenge the defense for the rebounds down low.
8:15: Big takeaway from that one: Russia's commitment to team defense was impressive. On the rare occasions Team USA got control in the offensive zone, the Russians did a terrific job boxing up the middle, getting sticks and bodies in the lanes to deflect anything the Americans directed toward the net.
8:13: That's the end of one. Some terrific pressure from Patrick Kane after Kesler wins the draw, but Bobrovsky stands tall. We're going into the first intermission still scoreless. That's as good as a win for Team USA after a period of near-total Russian dominance.
8:07: Penalty to the Russians. Ilya Nikulin goes to the box after hauling down Max Pacioretty on the draw. 36.2 left in the first.
8:05: Finally a break for the US: Datsyuk gets thrown out of a defensive zone draw. He's been toying with them in the circle all night.
8:02: Jonathan Quick looking like the right call so far. The last 10 minutes have been played almost entirely in the American zone. He's been sharp.
8:00: The Russians think they've scored, sticks raised..but no goal. Malkin drives the net, redirects a Semin pass just wide.
7:55: We're even up. Two shots on the power play for Team Russia but no real sustained pressure. Best chance comes just after Wheeler gets out of the box as Radulov drives the net from the left corner. Quick makes a nice stop in tight. Ovechkin played the entire two minutes of that power play.
7:51: First penalty of the game coming up. Blake Wheeler trips up Evgeni Malkin in the neutral zone. Wheeler was caught flat-footed and got his stick up in Malkin's midsection.
7:49: You go back to 2010 and remember how quickly Team Canada was able to break the will of the Russians with their physical play in the quarters. Looks like they've learned something from that one. The Russians are engaged.
7:48: A pair of Los Angeles Kings involved in a heavy collision--Slava Voynov blasts Dustin Brown. Team Russia getting the better of the physical play early on.
7:45: We're six minutes in. So much for the feeling out process. It's attack-counter attack with both sides generating chances. Shots 5-4 Russia.
7:43: You know all hands are on deck when Phil Kessel is winning physical battles along the boards.
7:42: Ryan Callahan a big hit on Evgeni Malkin. Some extracurriculars in front of the Russian net after Goalie Bob makes a stop. No lack of testosterone in this one.
7:41: From colleague Michael Farber on scene: Spotted a Jim Craig jersey in section 105. We never forget.
7: 40: Early opportunity for Nichushkin. The big bodies were a problem for Russia in Game 1. He could be a factor tonight.
7:31: We are under way.
7:24: Starting goalies: Jonathan Quick for Team USA, Sergei Bobrovsky for Team Russia. Bit of a surprise there after a solid first game for Semyon Varlamov in Game One vs. Slovenia.
7:15: Welcome to our live coverage of the USA-Russia round robin game, a critical match for each team. We'll be frequently updating this blog with observations and analysis throughout the morning.