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Olympics Recap: Slovenia Hangs Tough But Goes Down; USA, Russia, Canada Win

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Dustin Brown scores his first career Olympic goal and Jonathan Quick has a comfortable evening in net in a 7-1 win, while Anze Kopitar gets an assist and Slovenia makes Russia nervous before faltering in the third.

Voynov and the Russians got the better of Kopitar and the Slovenians.
Voynov and the Russians got the better of Kopitar and the Slovenians.
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Russia 5, Slovenia 2

All in all, a pretty admirable showing from Anze Kopitar and Slovenia in their first Olympic game against Slava Voynov and the home team. After Russia scored twice in the first four minutes, it looked like a rout was in the works, but some good goaltending from Robert Kristan and (eventually) improved team defense gave Slovenia a chance to make it a game. And make it a game they did; it was still 3-2 early in the third before Russia added a couple of insurance goals.

We might have expected Russia to be a bit tentative coming out of the gate, but just 1:17 in, the hosts got their nerves out of the way thanks to (who else?) Alexander Ovechkin, who blasted a shot past Kristan on his first shift of the game. Evgeni Malkin's breakaway goal less than three minutes later appeared to spell big trouble for the upstart Slovenians, and though Russia showed a tendency to pass too much after gaining their lead, they still got 18 shots in the first to Slovenia's 4. Kopitar was responsible for the two best Slovenian chances of the first; after getting stopped by Semyon Varlamov immediately after a penalty kill, he was foiled by Markov's stick after getting around Varlamov five minutes later.

Slovenia stunned the home crowd 1:43 into the second with their first Olympic goal. Ziga Jeglic was the scorer, as he took a pass from Mitja Robar and beat a screened Varlamov. It would remain 2-1 for fifteen minutes, and for some stretches, Slovenia seemed just as likely to score as Russia. In fact, it was a familiar sight for Los Angeles Kings fans as Kopitar's line with Jan Mursak and David Rodman produced a number of good offensive-zone shifts. The puck possession did not pay off, though, and Ilya Kovalchuk went top corner on the power play late in the second. Slovenia was unfazed, and Jeglic scored his second of the game 1:04 later while holding off two Russian defensemen. Kopitar got the secondary assist on Jeglic's goal; it was, of course, his first career Olympic point.

Valeri Nichushkin powerfully drove to the net and scored four minutes into the third to ease some of the tension on Russia, and Anton Belov's point shot through traffic would make it a 5-2 final. Slava Voynov had a quiet game for Russia, but his team got the W and he was steady throughout. Kristan and the Slovenians gave it their all and may have been disappointed with the outcome, but they made their country proud in their debut.

United States 7, Slovakia 1

Yeah, the USA had a good time today. Dan Bylsma's choice to start Jonathan Quick was met with healthy debate, but he could've put Ryan Miller or Jimmy Howard in net and the Americans still would have cruised. Shoot, they would have been fine with an actual bald eagle between the pipes. That's how spectacular the US attack was in the second period, as they scored six unanswered goals on the way to a 7-1 win.

Not to say that Quick wasn't good in goal. He didn't have to make too many highlight-reel saves, but he stopped 22 out of 23, and the one goal he did give up should have been blown dead a few seconds earlier due to offside. Was his performance good enough to earn him the start against Russia? I think that if Dan Bylsma had a plan going into this game, it didn't change. If he wanted Quick to start against Russia, Quick earned that second start; if he planned on switching to Ryan Miller, Quick wasn't spectacular enough to change that mindset.

Now, about that offense. John Carlson got the USA's first goal fifteen minutes in, with a perfect shot after a similarly perfect drop pass from Phil Kessel. Tomas Tatar (remember him?) tied it just 24 seconds into the second, even though the puck clearly exited and re-entered the offensive zone with a Slovakian player still fully past the blue line. After Slovakia tied things up, the American offense woke up and the barrage started. Ryan Kesler, Paul Stastny, and David Backes beat Jaroslav Halak, who was not getting much help from his defense but also wasn't stopping anything himself. Halak was pulled for Peter Budaj after Stastny's second goal of the game made it 5-1.

Budaj didn't fare much better, allowing two goals in the next two minutes. Kessel had the sixth goal, and the seventh and final goal was scored by... Dustin Brown! It was a sweet one for the alternate captain, as he picked out the top corner with a wrist shot and left Budaj almost no chance. Brown didn't get on the scoresheet in Vancouver, so this was long overdue. An uneventful third period followed, and the game finished 7-1.

Canada 3, Norway 1

In the game that California residents could watch at a normal time, Canada opened their Olympic campaign with a dominant performance that nonetheless resulted in only a two-goal win. Drew Doughty scored a superb goal...


... and assisted on Jamie Benn's second-period goal, which made the score 2-0. Norway got one back on the power play, but Doughty's goal 1:25 later sunk their hopes of pulling off a huge shock. Jeff Carter listened to his coaches and took a bunch of shots but didn't score, which clearly means he's a terrible player who didn't deserve to make Team Canada. Or maybe I'm reading too many hysterical tweets.

For a more complete recap of the Canada-Norway, check out the SB Nation recap here.