By Nathan Wright
T. J. Oshie brainstormed while he skated to center ice, desperately trying to come up with one last move to end an epic shootout. He had already taken five shots at Sergei Bobrovsky, and the Russians were still even.
Yet Oshie was chosen for the U.S. men's hockey team with just such a situation in mind, and the shootout specialist concocted one last clever goal to silence an arena filled with screaming Russian fans.
Oshie scored four times in the shootout and put the winner between Bobrovsky's legs in the eighth round, leading the United States past Russia 3-2 Saturday in the thrilling revival of a classic Olympic hockey rivalry.
"I was just thinking of something else I could do, trying to keep him guessing," said Oshie, the St. Louis Blues forward. "Had to go back to the same move a couple times, but I was glad it ended when it did. I was running out of moves there."
International rules allow the same player to take multiple shots after the first three rounds of a shootout, and U.S. coach Dan Bylsma leaned on Oshie's array of slick shots and change-of-pace approaches to the net. Oshie scored on the Americans' first shot before taking the last five in a row, going 4 for 6 against Bobrovsky and disappointing a Bolshoy Ice Dome crowd including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"I aged a couple of years in that shootout," Bylsma said. "We had other guys that are capable, but T.J. was the guy who was going well. It seemed like he was going to score every time he went."
Oshie's final shot was a beauty: He threaded a forehand right through Bobrovsky's pads, the puck punching the back of the Russian net emphatically enough to pop the water bottle on top into the air.
"I think you're going to see T.J. Oshie become a household name after that display he put on," said David Backes, Oshie's teammate in St. Louis. "The kids will be out on the pond probably in Minnesota right now, throwing a 5-hole on the goalie three or four times in a row."
Cam Fowler and Joe Pavelski scored in regulation for the Americans in the marquee game of the preliminary round. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves and stopped five attempts in the shootout as the U.S. improved to 2-0.
Captain Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals in regulation and another in the shootout for the Russians, who rallied from a third-period deficit in a fast-paced game. Russia also had an apparent goal waved off with 4:40 left because Quick's net came off its moorings.
"The U.S. team is a good team and a good test for us," Datsyuk said. "We played good, but the result is not good."
The shootout finish was entertaining, but the entire game was international hockey at its most compelling -- and the third period was a thriller.
Pavelski scored the tiebreaking goal for the Americans on a power play with 10:33 to play, but Datsyuk tied it with 7:16 left during a Russian power play, spurring Putin out of his seat to cheer.