There was no T.J. Oshie moment to be had as Team USA was blanked by the Olympic Athletes from Russia, 4-0.
Nikolai Prokharkin and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored twice as the Americans looked overmatched against the OAR squad filled with NHL-caliber talent.
Kovalchuk scored in the final second of the middle frame, and the opening minute of the third period to slash the hopes Team USA had of finishing atop Groub B in the preliminary round.
"There is no question that they are the most talented team here based on their roster," USA's head coach Tony Granato told NBC Olympics after the game. "They are a hell of a team."
The U.S. will regret several missed opportunities, most notably Brian Gionta’s failed breakaway attempt midway through the middle frame and Ryan Donato’s wrist shot that rang off the crossbar.
Ryan Zapolski made 22 saves but for the first time, looked out of place on the Olympic platform.
"I think it was a learning experience for us," Granato explained when asked if it was important to play a team of that caliber in the preliminary round. "That pace was as good of a pace as I have seen in a long time."
"As an athlete, you love to play in games like this," Granato continued. "The crowd was awesome. Our guys played hard to the end. We didn’t get any breaks tonight and certainly give them credit. They’re a really good team. We have a really good team too and this game will help us as we move to the next round."
Prokhorkin was the beneficiary of a U.S. turnover behind Zapolski to give OAR a 1-0 lead at 7:21 of the first period. Sergei Mozyakin delivered a pretty cross-ice feed to set up the opening strike.
Prokhorkin added another when he snapped a wrister over Zapolski’s glove at 2:14 of the second period. Mozyakin and Sergei Shirokov assisted on the play.
Then, Kovalchuk hammered a slap shot with .2 seconds remaining in the middle frame to extend OAR’s lead to three and prevent the U.S. from mounting any sort of comeback.
To make matters worse, Kovalchuk sniped a wrist shot just 28 seconds into the third period to extend OAR’s advantage to four. Former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov assisted on the play.
With the victory, OAR clinched the top spot in Group B and a bye to the quarterfinals.
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