There was no Russian revenge in the "Miracle on ice" rematch yesterday as the United States triumphed 3-2 in a remarkable sudden-death shootout after the teams finished level at 2-2 after overtime in a thrilling preliminary round game.
With Russian President Vladimir Putin among the noisy, capacity crowd at the gleaming Bolshoy Ice Dome, T.J. Oshie scored in the eighth round of the shootout to end an electric heavyweight clash that evoked memories of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics "Miracle on Ice" when a group of American college players upset the former-Soviet Union's "Big Red Machine".
Pavel Datsyuk, one of just two players on the Russian roster alive when the Soviets lost 34 years ago, scored twice in regulation for Russia.
The US got powerplay goals from Cam Fowler and Joe Pavelski.
Meanwhile, Slovenia savoured the greatest moment in their ice hockey history yesterday with a 3-1 upset win over Slovakia in the men's tournament.
Slovenia, a country with just 148 adult male players, sealed victory in their first appearance in an Olympic men's competition thanks to a three-goal third period.
"We definitely made history just being here, but now to get our first win - it feels remarkable," said Slovenian forward Anze Kopitar.
"We've been fortunate enough to write this fairytale, it's hard to believe."
After two goalless periods, Slovenia came to life early in the third and then held off a furious rally from a Slovakian team who finished fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Rok Ticar scored on a backhand from the slot, Tomaz Razinger added another when he pounced on a loose puck from in close, and Kopitar capped the scoring on a brilliant individual effort that saw him go untouched from the corner to the other side of the net before coolly slapping the puck home.
Slovakia, who suffered a 7-1 loss to the United States in their Sochi opener that equalled their worst Olympic result, got on the board with 18 seconds left but it was too late.
"It doesn't happen very often that a small nation like ours beats a team like Slovakia," said Kopitar.
"I think we put our team on the hockey map, for sure."
Slovenia were placed in the toughest of the three groups at the Sochi tournament, joined by the 2010 silver-medallist US team, hosts Russia and former world champions Slovakia.
They arrived in Russia with modest expectations of earning a point, awarded to teams who are tied at the end of regulation, in the three-game preliminary round.
But with this unlikely win under their belts, the Slovenians are more than ready for their final group-stage game against the US today.
"I think it relaxes us a lot more than we already were," Kopitar said of the win.
"Before the tournament we were talking about maybe to squeeze out a point somewhere to have a good tournament, just to represent our country the way you're supposed to represent your country.
"To pull off this win - it's pretty remarkable."
- Wire Services.