Discipline and defense aren't words regularly linked to Russian hockey teams of recent vintage. One afternoon of desperation changed that.
Alex Kovalev and Alexander Ovechkin scored less than two minutes apart during a three-goal second period and Russia rebounded from one of its worst Olympic hockey losses since 1980, dominating Sweden 5-0 Thursday.
Evgeni Nabokov, benched by the San Jose Sharks immediately before the Olympics break, turned aside 24 shots and the Swedes were 0-for-7 on the power play. Nabokov and his teammates were visibly motivated after losing to Slovakia 5-3 only 18 hours before.
"It's unbelievable to win against Sweden," defenseman Darius Kasparaitis said.
The Russians created numerous odd-man rushes with the help of some unusually strong play by their defensemen a group considered among the weakest of the primary medal contenders.
"You are begging for trouble when you give up 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s to a speedy team like this," Sweden's Mats Sundin said.
Sweden was coming off a 7-2 rout of Kazakhstan, but goalie Henrik Lundqvist enjoying a standout rookie season with the New York Rangers never looked comfortable even as Russia was going 1-for-8 on the power play.
"You're probably going to have one bad game like that in any tournament, and hopefully we got it out of the way," Sundin said.
Kovalev got the Russians going on a slap shot goal from the left circle faceoff dot. Ovechkin added his second in as many games and Maxim Sushinsky scored on a 3-on-1 break later in the second off Evgeni Malkin's perfect pass across the slot.
"The young guys really came through today, especially in that second period to generate those scoring chances," Kovalev said, referring to Ovechkin and Malkin.
The loss to Slovakia was one of Russia's most disappointing in the Olympics since its 1980 Miracle on Ice loss to the United States in Lake Placid, reports AP.
Since the likes of the traditional Inauguration Day in the national Capitol are likely never to be witnessed again, take this opportunity from one who has been there to relate some truth about the experience