Olympic capsules: Russia, USA, Finland all win big in Game 1

All three favorites of the early games won by multiple goals, with especially strong performances from Phil Kessel, Mikael Granlund and even Michael Grabner in a losing effort.

By Alexander Liepold

Alex Ovechkin scored for the host country just 1:17 into the game and added an assist just over two minutes later on Evgeni Malkin’s goal as Russia beat Slovenia 5-2 in Group A play.

Slovenia battled back from the early deficit to bring it to within one as Ziga Jeglic scored two goals for the underdogs despite having only eight shots on goal through two periods.

Former NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk scored the winning goal with Valeri Nichushkin and Anton Belov adding insurance goals in the third.

Russia takes on the Americans on Saturday, while Slovenia will take on Slovakia.

Phil Kessel lead the way for the Americans with one goal and two assists as the United States blew out Slovakia 7-1 in an impressive offense display.

Tied 1-1 early in the second, the US squad scored six times in the frame, including goals from David Backes, Paul Stastny, Kessel and Dustin Brown in a seven-minute span.

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Along with Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, John Carlson, Stastny, T.J Oshie, Ryan Kesler and Patrick Kane all had multi-point efforts.

Tomas Tatar scored the lone Slovakia goal and Jaroslav Halak gave up seven goals on 33 shots.

Mikael Granlund and Jarkko Immonen lead the way with two goals each as Finland doubled up Austria 8-4 in the first game of Group B action on Thursday.

The Finnish squad peppered Austrian goalie Bernhard Starkbaum with 52 shots and spread out their offense with 14 players recording at least one point.

Michael Grabner recorded a hat trick for Austria in a losing effort.

Shots were 52-20 in favour of Finland.

For standings, results and more from Sochi, check out THN’s Olympic Hockey Central.