In a rematch of the 1998 gold medal game -- the first of three gold medal game rematches at Canada Hockey Place on this Sunday -- Russia was able to hold off a feisty Czech Republic team by a final score of 4-2.
Of course, back in Nagano in '98, many of the Russian stars who made the victory a reality today were merely young spectators. Evgeni Malkin was the hero today, scoring two goals and adding an assist. Super star Alex Ovechkin also fueled his team with two assists and several big hits, including one on Jaromir Jagr in the third period that directly led to Malkin's second goal.
This was the hockey game that the Olympics are made for. It was fast-paced, gritty, physical, offensive, defensive and most of all, it featured excellent goaltending by two of the games best, yet underrated netminders.
Tomas Vokoun made 28 saves in the loss, but without his stellar goaltending, the score could've been lopsided thanks to the unbelievably potent Russian attack.
Jagr, one of the stars who did play back on that 1998 gold medal winning Czech team, showed today (as he has all tournament) that he can still play at the highest level of hockey. He was a minus-2 on the day and he also took a penalty, but just watching him play who can tell that he still has command of all the tools that allowed him to become a Hall of Famer caliber NHL player.
The win gives Russia a bye past the qualification round and into the quarterfinals, while the Czechs will also see their way into the quarterfinals if the United States and Finland can win tonight. Otherwise it's off to the qualification round for them.