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Russia fans celebrate a goal in the second period of a men's hockey game at Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. USA defeated Russia, 3-2. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Team USA's Oshie shows the right moves on this day

ADLER, Russia -- T.J. Oshie is a hard man to read.

Yet as the U.S. and Russia's Olympic Games preliminary game was extended to a fifth, sixth and seventh round of a sudden-death shootout at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, even Oshie, the Team USA and St. Louis Blues forward, wondered how long he could continue to keep Russia goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky off balance.

"I was running out of moves there," Oshie said.

He would only need one more.

After U.S. and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stopped Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk in the eighth round, Oshie slid the puck past Bobrovsky to give Team USA a 3-2 victory Saturday afternoon in which Russia and the U.S., delivering high-octane, high-impact hockey, added another dramatic chapter to this storied rivalry.

"It's a very fine line between winning and losing," Quick said, "and we were able to get the win tonight, which is great."

The difference was Oshie, who cemented his place in the lore of the Winter Olympics' most celebrated rivalry.

"I think you are going to see T.J. Oshie be a household name after that display he put on today," said U.S. forward David Backes, Oshie's teammate in St. Louis.

With Oshie's and Quick's heroics, not to mention a controversial call that wiped out a Russia goal, the U.S. further established itself as a gold-medal contender in a game with historical and political overtones that contributed to an electric and raucous atmosphere.

"It was like going into the craziest building, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup," U.S. and Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty said. "All that plus more."

Al Michaels sat rinkside. Russia President Vladimir Putin was much higher up in a VIP section, his presence apparently not missed in Washington, D.C.

"Congrats to T.J. Oshie and the U.S. men's hockey team on a huge win!" the White House tweeted shortly after the game. "Never stop believing in miracles."

Saturday, however, was no miracle. It was evident from the opening whistle of an often nasty, always fast-paced game just how far the U.S. has come since Lake Placid in 1980.

Although Pavel Datsyuk squeezed past three U.S. defenders then fired past Quick's glove hand to put Russia up, 1-0, 9:15 into the second period, the U.S. had played the hosts even. And seven minutes later Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler got the equalizer.

Midway through the third period, Joe Pavelski, set up by Patrick Kane, gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead. But with 7:16 remaining Datsyuk snuck a shot from the top of the right circle past Quick and just inside the post to make it 2-2.

Three minutes later Russia appeared to take a 3-2 lead when Fedor Tyutin ripped a slap shot from the left blue line past Quick. But after a video review, referee Brad Meier, an American, waved off the goal, saying the goal's left post was off its mooring.

"I don't know what happened there, but it was definitely a goal," Russia superstar Alex Ovechkin said. "Nobody (on Russia's team) touched the net, but the goalie touched the net so that the net moved (off its mooring). The referee had to see it. He should have given (Quick) two minutes (in the penalty box)."

U.S. players and coaches also said they were initially unaware of what happened.

"I heard (U.S. forward) Blake Wheeler go 'no goal, no goal.'" Oshie said. "When they waved it off, we knew we got by with one and time to bear down and go out and win the game."

After the teams remained deadlocked through five minutes of overtime, Oshie opened the first Olympic shootout in Team USA history with a goal. The U.S. lead held until Kovalchuk scored in the third round. The goal sent the shootout into the sudden-death phase in which teams can continue to call on the same shooter.

"It was crazy," Pacioretty said. "I didn't know whether to watch or not to watch."

While Russia alternated Kovalchuk and Datsyuk, U.S. coach Dan Bylsma kept calling Oshie's number.

"I kept looking back, seeing if anyone else was going to go," Oshie said.

They weren't.

"Once we got to the four shooter," Bylsma said, "and with the quality moves he had, even when he did miss, we were going to ride him out."

Datsyuk and Oshie scored in the fifth round, Oshie and Kovalchuk in the sixth.

"My hands are a little tingling, my feet are tingling," Oshie said. "It was pretty nerve-wracking out there."

Datsyuk and Oshie missed in the seventh, sending the shootout to an eighth round deadlocked, 3-3.

"I was nervous for him," U.S. captain Zach Parise of Oshie. "At some point you start to think does he have any more moves left?"

Oshie was thinking the same thing. But it was also a moment he had played over and over, thousands of times in the rinks, driveways and imagination of childhood.

"I guess every kid wants to do the shootout and mess around and have fun," Oshie said.

He began as had his other five attempts, skating right to left, offered a couple fakes, and then shot past Bobrovsky into history and another generation of imaginations.

"Kids will be out on the pond, probably in Minnesota right now," Backes said, "throwing a five-hole on the goalie three or four times in a row."

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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TEAM USA


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