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Russia survives scare, beats Slovakia in shootout

Feb 16, 2014, 10:12 AM EDT

AlexRadulovAP AP

It took a while, but Russia finally solved the riddle that was Jan Laco.

The Russians beat Slovakia 1-0 in a shootout on Sunday at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, thanks to successful attempts from Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk. With the win, Russia clinched second place in Group A and will now wait to see of it obtains a bye to the tournament quarterfinals as a top-four seed.

Slovakia gave Russia all it could handle in the final group game, however.

The story of the game was the play of Laco, the 32-year-old netminder who entered this tournament as Slovakia’s No. 3 goalie — behind NHLers Jaroslav Halak and Peter Budaj — and didn’t even dress for his country’s first two games of the tournament.

Laco stopped all 36 shots faced during regulation and overtime, a dramatic turn for the Slovaks after Halak was torched for eight goals on 48 shots over the first two games while Budaj allowed two on six.

Sunday’s game represented a turning point not just for Slovakian goaltending, but the team on the whole. It managed to secure its first point of the tournament and thereby avoided going into the playoff round as the No. 12 seed (that’ll go to Norway.) Slovakia also showed great resolve in holding the high-powered Russian offense at bay, killing five penalties while keeping the Kovalchuk-Radulov-Pavel Datsyuk line to just five total shots on net.

Speaking of limiting offense, Russia netminder Semyon Varlamov resumed starting duties after sitting out Saturday’s loss to the U.S. and was solid, stopping 27 shots for his first Olympic shutout.

  1. jimw81 - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    at lest Radulov doesn’t have to go to Serbia, for now.

    • cepheus50510 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Radulov–that guy is so talented but such a liability. You wonder how good he could be if he didn’t use half of his energy for goonery.

    • bucrightoff - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:57 AM

      Serbia is another country. Siberia, on the other hand, is where Russians get sent to suffer.

      • bsaures - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        Siberia its like Manitoba only worse

  2. patthehockeyfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Slovakia played a hell of a defensive game and deserve congratulations for their effort.

  3. lesleyvissersfacelift - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Halford, Slovakia still goes in the playoff round, right? They just don’t go in as the last seed (which is Norway)? Is that what you meant ?

    • Mike Halford - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Yup. All 12 teams advance to the playoff round, the group stage is just for seeding.

  4. penvik - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Take Malkin away from ovechkin!!!! My god does Ovechkin bring him down. Puck hog and a one trick pony. Malkin always defers to ovechkin and clearly it should be the other way around. Malkin should have the C on Russia and control the play. He’s the best on big ice and Crosby is the best on NA ice

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