If Saturday's United States-Russia game was the marquee matchup of the preliminary round, then Sunday's Canada-Finland meeting to decide the winner of Group B was a close second.
And like Saturday's game, Sunday's winner had to be decided in extra time.
Drew Doughty (Los Angeles) scored his second goal of the game at 2:32 of overtime to lift Canada to a 2-1 victory at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Both Canada and Finland earned automatic bids into Wednesday's quarterfinals since the Canadians won the group and the Finns won the wild card spot after they finished with the fourth most points (seven) in the three-game preliminary round. In the quarterfinals, Canada will play the winner of Switzerland-Latvia while Finland will play the winner of Russia-Norway.
Avalanche forward Matt Duchene played in his second consecutive game, posting 13:12 of ice time for the Canadians.
Duchene played on a line with a pair of Anaheim Ducks forwards in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the same two skaters he played with during his Olympic debut Friday against Austria.
On a night when the Russian offense had trouble finding the back of the net, goaltender Semyon Varlamov stood tall in the crease and saved the game for the host country.
Varlamov didn't allow any pucks to get past him as he made 27 saves through overtime and stopped two more in a shootout Sunday to lead Russia to a 1-0 win over Slovakia at Bolshoy Ice Dome. It was the Colorado Avalanche goalie's second win of the tournament and first Olympic shutout.
Team Russia is known for their dynamic scorers with Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Malkin leading its offensive onslaught, but Slovakia played strong defensively and didn't give the Russians many opportunities until the final 20 minutes.
Russia came to life in the third period as it outshot Slovakia 15-2 and then 5-3 in overtime, but it couldn't get any shots past goalie Jan Laco. The Russians ended the game with a 37-27 shot advantage.
"Of course we're not happy about this game," Russia captain Pavel Datsyuk said afterward in Russian. "We wanted to win it in regular time, not to go into shootouts or cause heart attacks."
After falling to the United States in an eight-round shootout 24 hours earlier, Sunday's tiebreaker was over quickly. Varlamov made two right-pad saves and Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov scored for Russia to end the best-of-three shootout after two frames.
Both of Varlamov's stops in the shootout were spectacular. His first against Michal Handzus was a kick save in which he just got enough of the puck to deflect it wide, while his second was a pad stop in which he stretched out his right leg to deny Tomas Tatar's chance.
SOCHI -- It appears the starting goaltending job for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics is now Carey Price's to lose.
The Montreal Canadiens goaltender will get the nod over Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks when Canada plays Finland with first place in Group B on the line at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Sunday (12 p.m. ET, USA, CBC).
This game being Canada's final one before entering the knockout phase of the Olympic tournament, the lineup chosen by coach Mike Babcock and his coaching staff took on greater importance.
Babcock did acknowledge that reality Saturday when speaking to the media on Canada's day off, but he reminded everyone that it is now up to Price to hold on to the job he's been given.
If Sunday's news was good for Price, it was just as bad for his Canadiens teammate P.K. Subban and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis. Subban is the reigning Norris Trophy winner and St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy as the scoring champion last season, but both will be scratched against Finland.
With Subban and St. Louis going to be the scratched skaters, it allows Matt Duchene to play in his second straight Olympic contest after having a solid outing on Friday against Austria.
Semyon Varlamov will be in goal when Russia plays Slovakia on Sunday (7:30 a.m. ET, USA, SNET) in the teams' Group A preliminary-round finale, according to a team spokesman.
Varlamov started Russia's 2014 Sochi Olympics opener Thursday against Slovenia. The Colorado Avalanche goalie stopped 12 of 14 shots in the 5-2 win.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves during regulation and overtime in a 3-2 shootout loss to the United States on Saturday. The Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender surrendered goals on four of eight U.S. attempts in the breakaway tiebreaker, all to St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie.
Bobrovsky will back up Varlamov against Slovakia.
Russia could win Group A with a victory against Slovakia, depending on the result of the U.S.-Slovenia game Sunday (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN).
Saturday’s anticipated USA-Russia matchup lived up to the pregame billing and was about as dramatic of a victory as there can be at this stage of the Olympics.
Tied 2-2 at the end of regulation. A little controversy. Still tied after the shootout. Still tied after each team took its three penalty shots.
And then … T.J. Oshie (Blues).
It was the type of game and subsequent memory that is the reason we love sports. There was plenty of drama and lots of emotion, lots of internal (adrenaline) and external (caffeine) nervousness and a final scene that brought the house down.
And in today’s technology-savvy world most enjoyed it with thousands and thousands of their closest “friends.”
I hopped on Twitter early in the first period and was amazed by the interaction. I wasn’t surprised there was excitement up and down my timeline but that it was happening en masse at a time when most of the country might have still been sleeping had it happened on any other Saturday.
Gabriel Landeskog and Team Sweden clinched the Group C pool-play victory Friday morning with a 1-0 win against Switzerland, and Matt Duchene made his Olympic debut with Team Canada in a 6-0 rout of Austria.
The Avs are still perfect for Sochi, but that won’t be the case after tomorrow.
Two days remain in Preliminary Round play for the Avalanche players, but Paul Stastny and Team USA are set to play Russia and Colorado teammate Semyon Varlamov on Saturday in an anticipated early-tournament game (5:30 a.m. MT; CBC, NBCSN).
It’s the only game in the preliminaries that features Avs playing Avs.
Landeskog and Sweden will finish Group C play at 10 a.m. Saturday against Latvia (USA, SNET1), while the Russians, Americans and Canadians will wrap up Sunday—Russia takes on Slovakia (5:30 a.m.; USA, SNET), the USA has Slovenia (5:30 a.m., NBCSN), and Canada faces Finland (10 a.m.; CBC, USA).
Avalanche center Paul Stastny scored twice in a six-goal second period Thursday to help lead the United States to a 7-1 win over Slovakia in its first game of preliminary play at Shayba Arena.
"It’s always special playing against Slovakia," said Stastny, who has family in Slovakia, to the official IIHF website. "I always know family back home is watching, and my parents always watch no matter what. I’ve never beaten these guys, so it was nice to get it on my third try, on the most important stage."
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The Americans will now set their sights on Russia, as they face the host country in a highly anticipated matchup on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. MT (NBCSN, CBC). The winner of that game will likely have the inside track of winning Group A and receiving an automatic bye into the quarterfinals.
Team USA opened the game's scoring at 14:27 of the first period on a rocket slap shot by John Carlson (Washington) that sent the puck into the top-left corner. Carlson, who also had an assist in the game, had plenty of time and space to fire a perfect shot after Phil Kessel (Toronto) brought the puck into the Slovakia zone and sent a drop pass to Carlson to create separation. Kessel finished the contest with three points as he later added a goal and another assist.
Paul Stastny had a stellar performance for the United States at the IIHF World Championship last May, and he picked up right where he left off on Thursday as he began his second Olympic Games.
The Colorado Avalanche center scored twice in a six-goal second period and helped lead Team USA to a decisive 7-1 victory over Slovakia in the first game of preliminary play for both squads.
Stastny's last experience on the larger, international ice surface was at the 2013 world championship in Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland when he captained the Americans to a bronze medal and led the team in scoring. He finished second at the tournament with 15 points (seven goals and eight assists) and was the only American to be named to the Media All-Star team.
Centering a line with T.J. Oshie and Max Pacioretty against Slovakia, Stastny's two goals came just feet from the front of the net, a spot where he scored many of his tallies at last year's world championship and this season with the Avalanche.
Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado’s captain and Sweden’s alternate captain, assisted on a Henrik Zetterberg (Red Wings) goal 51 seconds into the second period Wednesday, and Sweden started its 2014 Olympics with a 4-2 win against Czech Republic at Sochi’s Bolshoy Ice Dome.
The Swedes took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission and quickly led 4-0 in the second period, following Zetterberg’s score and another from Erik Karlsson (Predators) at 4:07.
The Czechs pushed back and made the score 4-2 on second-period scores from Marek Zidlicky and Jaromir Jagr (Devils), but that was it for the game’s scoring.
Landeskog finished with one shot on goal and a plus-two rating in 15:16 of ice time. He also served a late first-period penalty for interference.
If you remember the format that the International Ice Hockey Federation followed for the men's hockey tournament at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics then the following simply will be a refresher. However, if you can't recall that tournament or the format then we've got you covered.
Here is all the information you need to know about the teams, dates and format for the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics:
This is group play so each country will play every country in their group once, equaling three games per country and 18 games in total.
The IIHF follows a three-point system per game. Teams will receive three points for a win in regulation and zero points for a regulation loss. Each team receives one point if the game goes to overtime, and a second point is awarded to the team that wins in the five-minute overtime or the shootout.
The top four teams based on where they finish in the group and highest number of points in the preliminary round will receive byes into the quarterfinals and be considered the home team in that round. The IIHF will refer to the four teams as 1D, 2D, 3D and 4D.
The tie-breaking procedure can come down to goal-differential, higher numbers of goals-for, and finally which country had a better 2013 IIHF world ranking.