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Hockey: U.S. tops Russia in shootout thriller

By Mariano Castillo and Greg Botelho, CNN
February 15, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Team USA beats Russia in a thrilling game, winning 3-2 in a shootout
  • T.J. Oshie was the hero for the Americans, scoring on four shootout attempts
  • "My hands are a little tingling, my feet are tingling," he says afterward
  • The early round loss does not knock Russia from contention for gold

(CNN) -- Was it a miracle? Perhaps not.

But Saturday's much anticipated Olympic men's hockey showdown between Russia and United States sure was one amazing game.

And it was a long one, at that. After 60 minutes of regulation, then after five minutes of overtime, even after the three required shootout attempts for each team, the contest was still all tied up.

T.J. Oshie finally broke the ice, notching his fourth goal in the shootout stage -- which happened to be all four of the Americans' shootout goals -- to give his USA squad a 3-2 victory.

"My hands are a little tingling, my feet are tingling," Oshie admitted afterward. "It was pretty nerve-racking out there."

See game-winning goal

His heroics, and that of U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick, capped a tight, hard-fought affair.

There wasn't as much at stake compared to the historic 1980 Winter Olympics game in Lake Placid, New York, between the underdog Americans and the Soviet Union (the closest thing to today's Russians). Mike Eruzione's goal lifted the U.S. to victory, setting the stage for their gold medal win.

And the loss hardly eliminates the host Russians, which entered the Sochi Games with high hopes, and high pressure, to take home gold. They still have a good shot to reach the quarterfinals, having one preliminary round victory under their belt and another game in this round -- against Slovakia -- to go.

As Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk said, "Everything is OK. Nothing terrible has happened."

Kovalchuk, who once starred in the NHL but now plays in St. Petersburg in Russia's professional league, even saw positives. "We played good and showed our character by equalizing the game at the end," he said, "and now we will be getting ready for the future."

Still, the energy in the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the intense attention worldwide all suggested that this wasn't just any other game. It helped, too, that both squads are talented, played well and had legitimate shots at winning gold.

A report by NHL.com described the sounds of air horns blasting through the arena in what was mostly a pro-Russian crowd. Russian flags and chants of "Russ-ee-ya" echoed throughout, according to the report.

"It was loud, crazy, a circus-like environment," NHL.com reported. "It was the Olympics at their finest."

Russia grabbed an early lead, before the Americans responded with a pair of power play goals -- one in the second period, another in the third -- to jump ahead.

Then Russia's Pavel Datsyuk of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings netted his second goal of the day to tie the score 2-2.

And with just under five minutes to go, Russia appeared to score a go-ahead goal on a blast.

But after mulling it over, the referees called off this score because -- before the shot went in -- the net had moved off its moorings, barely.

See controversial shot that was disallowed

That set the stage for the five-minute overtime period and, after no one scored then, the shootout.

The Americans were on the verge of winning until -- on Russia's third chance -- Kovalchuk got one past Quick, who plays for the Los Angeles Kings.

After that, things reset. Unlike in the NHL, where no player can have more than one shot in a shootout, the international rules allow for players (after the first three attempts by each side) to go again and again and again.

Oshie -- whose day job is with the NHL's St. Louis Blues -- did just that. He went five more times, beating Russian net minder Sergei Bobrovsky's on three of those attempts.

Bobrovsky, who also plays in the NHL for the Columbus Blue Jackets, wasn't as positive afterward as his teammate, Kovalchuk.

"It was a shootout; we wanted more," the Russian goalie said. "It is heartbreaking."

Oshie himself said he felt some pressure," but then the puck hits your stick and you start skating. It's just you and the goalie. I was fortunate enough to keep him guessing."

And afterward, Americans had no doubt what they think of Oshie.

As one person said on Twitter: "T.J. Oshie put his country on his back! Unreal."

Showdown was physical and intense

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