It was a game that will be talked about for decades to come.
Team USA took down Team Russia 3-2 in a shootout thriller that not only produced a national hero, but also proved why Olympic hockey is simply the best.
After a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation, and overtime solving nothing, the game went to a shootout.
An international shootout is quite unlike an NHL shootout. In international shootouts, after three shooters, the coach can put out whoever he wants to take the shot.
In the NHL, the rules are quite different. No single player can shoot more than once until the entire lineup has been circulated through.
The Olympics allowed St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie to score four shootout goals in six attempts, including the game-winner.
After scoring the opening shootout goal, Oshie went on the score three more times in the sudden-death round, helping his team to an important win in the preliminary round.
The Olympics allow one player to step-up, and propel their country to victory.
Immediately after Oshie scored, the internet blew up. Oshie became a national hero, someone kids all over the country could look up to.
— Matt Coker (@StormCoker) February 15, 2014
He has gained about 100,000 Twitter followers since the end of the game.
Very humbled by everyone's support for my teammates and I. Another tough task at hand today against Slovenia. #USA
— TJ Oshie (@TJOshie77) February 16, 2014
Many hadn’t heard much of Oshie before Saturday, but in a span of shootout, he became a legend. The Olympics are set on a world stage, giving players the chance to showcase their talent to the entire world.
Why send NHL players to the Olympics? Before today, Blues fans and a few elsewhere knew how skilled TJ Oshie is. Now the world does.
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) February 15, 2014
Oshie leads the NHL in shootout goals this season, and his 54 percent career mark is third-highest among active players.
Not many people knew that before the game on Saturday.
His performance brought together a country and showcased how important unity is in this world.
Oshie represented his country with tremendous class, showing the world what kind of people are living in America.
After being called a “hero” in his post-game interview, instead of focusing on his individual performance, Oshie gave his opinion on who the real “heroes” are in America.
TJ Oshie: "The American heroes are wearing camo. That's not me."
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) February 15, 2014
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 15, 2014
This classy move by Oshie showed the entire hockey world how genuine hockey players truly are. The Olympics are great because everything that occurs is witnessed by the entire world.
Many great things that take place in the NHL go unnoticed, but not on the world stage.
Oshie was praised by millions in the country, with some taking the creative route to show their appreciation.
Kyle Scott, the owner of the blog “Crossing Broad”, created a video combining Oshie’s moves in the shootout with the “again” scene from the movie Miracle.
There was also this tweet from NBC.
Oshie in Sochi, during the shootout: pic.twitter.com/qbTx99xic7
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 15, 2014
NHL Rivalries Need Not Apply
The goalie for Team USA was no other than Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick. The Blues and Kings have a tremendous rivalry, with the Blues having been eliminated by the Kings in the 2013 playoffs.
That doesn’t matter on the world stage. Oshie and Quick are friends and teammates who are playing for their beloved country.
After the win, Oshie doesn’t even do a big celebration. He simply smiled and pointed at goaltender Quick, who was phenomenal in regulation and the shootout.
Hockey players are the best bunch of guys in the world. Oshie scores winner and immediately points down to other end of the ice to Quick….
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) February 16, 2014
In his post-game interview, Oshie didn’t talk much about himself. Instead, he praised the work of Quick, a normal rival of his in the NHL.
Oshie is so humble in his interview. He keeps saying how much he appreciated having Quick there and doesn't take much credit at all.
— Rachel M. (@REMBostonsports) February 15, 2014
The ability for players to come together and represent their country is astonishing and amazing.
The Olympics show that hockey is only a game, and when it comes to representing your country, NHL rivalries get thrown out the window.
The same goes in coaching. Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach Dan Bylsma are both coaches for the U.S Olympic team. They have quite the history in the NHL, including this altercation in the 2012 playoffs when Laviolette was still coaching the Philadelphia Flyers.
Now they are two coaches for their country, an ultimate honor.
Check out this fist pump from Laviolette after Oshie scores the winner in the shootout.
This is only a preliminary game, but there is already so much passion from the coach. In the Olympics, every game matters.
I don’t know about others, but I find it impossible to stop watching that video. It’s just too damn good.
Some may argue Lavy showed some awesome self-control in avoiding the temptation to follow through on Bylsma’s face, but that’s for another argument.
On the topic of passion, every goal matters in the Olympics.
Check out the energy and passion from forward Joe Pavelski after he put the Americans up 2-1. His energy brought an entire nation to its feet.
Even at the risk of injury, these Olympians are willing to do whatever it takes to win.
A couple USA players showed tremendous courage as they put their bodies in front of some blistering shots from the Russians.
Here is New York Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh throwing himself in front of a rocket from Alexander Ovechkin.
Ryan Kesler also showed no fear, taking a drive to the hand to prevent Russia from getting a power-play goal. That wasn’t just anybody shooting, it was Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk.
We can see how important the Olympics are to the players and how far they will go to win.
Now the game wasn’t without controversy. Russian defenseman Fedor Tyutin appeared to break a 2-2 tie with the Americans, with just over 3 minutes left in the game.
The goal was waved off though, after it was announced that the net was off its moorings.
It was goaltender Quick that bumped the post, making a save to his left on an Evgeni Makin chance and dislodging the post in the process.
The no-goal call led to endless controversy, as people questioned whether Quick did the move on purpose.
Ovechkin on no-goal: "Nobody touched the net. The goalie touched the net and pulled it out. But the referee didn’t give him two minutes."
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 15, 2014
Quick’s Kings’ teammate Slava Voynov, a defenseman on Russia, went as far as accusing the goaltender of basically cheating.
Voynov on Quick dislodging the net before the Tyutin disallowed goal: "I play with him. I know that's his style." #USAvRUS
— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) February 15, 2014
That move by Voynov shows how important the Olympics really are. It takes guts to say what Voynov said. He will be spending the rest of the season alongside Quick in Los Angeles. Talk about awkward locker room conversation.
Can't wait for Slava Voynov to accuse Dustin Brown of diving in potential Russia-USA medal round matchup.
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) February 15, 2014
Good Players Not in the NHL
While the game had controversy, it also reminded us that there are very good hockey players not playing in the NHL.
Here is former NHL’er and current Russian star Ilya Kovalchuk making it look easy in the shootout against Jonathan Quick.
Now in the KHL, the sniper can utilize the Olympics to gain recognition on a wider scale (if he hadn’t had enough already).
Olympic Hockey is Simply the Best
While there was some controversy, this game brought everybody in the hockey world together to celebrate some terrific performances.
I don't feel so bad anymore……. pic.twitter.com/lsFF57sA4V
— Strombone (@strombone1) February 15, 2014
Congrats to T.J. Oshie and the U.S. men's hockey team on a huge win! Never stop believing in miracles. #GoTeamUSA -bo
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 15, 2014
Holy smokes Whatta game… Probably the best game I have ever been a spectator for. Wow
— Matt Duchene (@Matt9Duchene) February 15, 2014
Olympic hockey brings an entire country together, and that is why it is simply the best. Never stop believing.