It was expected that the Russians would have won it all, but what wasn’t planned was that it would have taken overtime to skate past a very aggressive and excellently-coached Team Germany. Nikita Gusev and Kirill Kaprizov have been incredible for OAR, with the first feeding the second for the power play, game-winning goal. With this win, Pavel Datsyuk became the 28th member of the Triple Gold Club, as he has won an Olympic gold medal, a Stanley Cup, and an IIHF WC title.
The 2018 Olympic Games’ Final Game
The game was a true drama. The teams exchanged penalties in the first period without overcharging the goalies, Vasili Koshechkin and Danny aus den Birken. However, at the very end of the period, a bullet from Vyacheslav Voynov after a mistake from the German defense found the back of the net. The former LA Kings defenseman was assisted by Gusev and Kaprizov. In the second period, the Germans managed to tie it up with former KHL player Felix Schutz, but the true game started in the third period.
The Russians tried to find a way to score, but the Germans, brilliantly coached by former NHL player Marco Sturm, closed all the gaps and managed to outmuscle the opposition in most of cases until Gusev found an inch between the goalie mask and the goalpost with only seven minutes to play. The Russians celebrated probably too much, as it took only 10 seconds to the Germans to tie it up again with a smart shot from the slot by Dominik Kahun, who was one of the best German players in the tournament. As I previewed, the Germans went all-in against the Russians, and the tactics paid off.
A few minutes down the road, Team Germany sensationally made it a 3-2 game with a beautiful goal by defenseman Jonas Muller. With 2:10 to go, Sergei Kalinin was sent to the penalty box and the game seemed finished for the Russians. But it was not. In a penalty-killing situation, Oleg Znarok pulled goaltender Vasili Koshechkin and iced the Kaprizov-Gusev pair. Kaprizov, the Minnesota Wild prospect, had a great rush on the right side and brought the puck to the slot, which was picked up by Gusev, who put it top-shelf for the 3-3 goal with less than a minute to go.
Congratulations to my friend Pavel on such an accomplishment! pic.twitter.com/uwXShzSfUt
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) February 25, 2018
In the overtime, the Russians pushed the gas and got the man-advantage when Pavel Datsyuk broke into the offensive zone and was high-sticked by Patrick Reimer. The Datsyuk line once again was iced, and with a great cross-ice pass, Gusev sent the puck to the right to Kaprizov, who buried the chance with a slick, powerful one-timer that went past aus den Birken on his left.
The German Legacy
The Germans can be proud of themselves. They had an excellent tournament and made it to overtime with a chance for a historic gold medal. Marco Sturm was excellent on the bench, building a team focusing on his players’ strengths and not giving the opposition an inch on the ice. His team didn’t allow the Russians to play for most of the game, and the difference was pretty much done by a great showing by single players. There is little doubt that if the teams swapped coaches, the outcome may have been very different.
Some of the Germans had an excellent tournament, and Danny aus den Birken has been named the best goalie of the tournament. Voynov was the best defenseman and Gusev was the best forward. Ilya Kovalchuk was named the MVP of the tournament. In the All-Star media team, four Russians were named (Koshechkin, Voynov, Kovalchuk, and Datsyuk), with one Canadian, Maxim Noreau, and Finnish forward Eeli Tolvanen. Gusev and Kaprizov were also the top-scoring players of the tournament, scoring 12 and 9 points respectively. Also, Tolvanen scored 9 points for Finland.
This Olympic tournament of course wasn’t the same without NHL players, but it was nevertheless an exciting tournament with an incredible final. Hopefully, in 2022, we’ll see NHL players again.
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso