Russia beat Slovenia in men’s hockey opener, 5-2

On his first shift of his first period of his first game of the Sochi Olympics, Alex Ovechkin skated to his favorite spot, near the left face-off circle, and found himself in possession of the two things he craves on an ice rink: the puck and an opening. Before the game was two minutes old, before anyone on the ice had broken a sweat, before the pro-Russian crowd at the Bolshoi Ice Dome could even plead/chant, “Shaybu!” (“Score!”), Ovechkin had delivered the puck to the back of the net.

Ovechkin’s quick-draw goal, on a top-shelf blast over the left shoulder of Slovenia goalie Robert Kristan, and another one less than three minutes later from linemate Evgeni Malkin, portended an easy afternoon for the Russians, who could have used one of those, given the enormous expectations on them this month.

But the Slovenians would not be finished off easily, and it took a couple of third-period goals for the Russians to put the game away. The Russians won, 5-2, and next on their schedule is a hotly anticipated matchup with the United States on Saturday.

Ahead just 3-2 entering the third, the Russians got an impressive goal from Valeri Nichushkin, who fought off a Slovenian defender, floated in from the right side and put the puck past Kristan just before the goal became unmoored. Moments later, Anton Belov scored on a long blast to push the lead to 5-2.

Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals star who has been dubbed the unofficial face of the Sochi Games, was back at the left wing where he has played for most of his career, rather than the right wing, where he has found success in the past two NHL seasons. He finished with a goal and an assist.

The Post Sports Live crew debates whether hockey during the Winter Olympics or the NHL Playoffs are more exciting to watch. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)
Dave Sheinin has been covering baseball and writing features and enterprise stories for The Washington Post since 1999.
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