The Olympic Athletes from Russia lived up to their billing as favorites in Pyeongchang with an exciting 4-3 overtime win over Germany in the gold medal game Saturday night. It’s the first time that the Russians have won the tournament since the Unified Team took home Olympic gold in 1992.
Minnesota Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov scored the game-winning goal on a power play in OT after Patrick Reimer was busted for a high-sticking penalty drawn by Pavel Datsyuk. Nikita Gusev and Slava Voynov recorded assists on the clinching score.
Russia needed to rally from a 3-2 deficit late in regulation in order to win the game. Gusev scored the final two goals in regulation for Russia to save the day, including the game-tying goal in the final minute while Germany was on the power play.
People will be talking about that game-tying goal for a long time. Germany seemed to be on the brink of putting the game away with a power play and a one-goal lead, but Russia pulled its goaltender to pull to 5-on-5 on the ice, then Gusev popped home a backhand shot from a wild angle to shock everyone watching.
Kaprizov’s goal was the culmination of an incredible game that surpassed all expectations. Even without the NHL, we were treated to a thriller in Pyeongchang.
The first goal for the Russians was scored by Voynov, who left the NHL in 2014 after pleading no contest to domestic abuse of his wife. He served 90 days in jail before returning to Russia to resume his career in the KHL, where he now plays for SKA St. Petersburg.
That score came with less than two seconds left in the first period after the German defense parted through the middle of the ice to give Voynov a clear shooting lane. Goaltender Danny Aus Birken, who saved 26 of 30 shots in the game, was unable to make the stop just before the intermission.
Voynov’s goal seemed to open the door to the possibility of Russia running away with the game, but Germany kept pushing in the second period and ended up tying the game with a goal from Felix Schutz. Russian goalie Vasili Koshechkin was largely to blame as he knocked the puck in himself to even the score.
It surprisingly became a tight game from there despite the Russians’ inclination to push to a faster pace. The Germans were playing a conservative game with good puck pressure and structure, which prevented the Russians from getting the open space that’s allowed them to swallow up other teams.
However, after the Germans took the lead, the final minutes of regulation and overtime saw the pace kick up a major degree, and that urgency ended up leading Russia to victory. Germany could only hold off their best attacks for so long.
Even with the loss, Germany still has a lot to be proud of. A silver medal is the country’s best showing in Olympic hockey ever, and the first time the country has medaled in the sport since West Germany won bronze in 1976. Four years ago, the Germans didn’t even qualify for the Olympics in Sochi.