Hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics: The second day of action in men’s Group B resulted in Team USA and OAR earning their first wins, while Sweden and Finland remained undefeated in Group C.
The second day of action for Group B was ever-important with Team USA looking to bounce back from their shocking tournament-opening loss and Russia attempting to unleash its firepower after displaying a stunning amount of offensive futility given their high-octane roster. And over in Group C, Finland and Sweden continued on their course towards a group-deciding clash.
DONATO COMES UP BIG FOR TEAM USA IN BIG GROUP B BATTLE
Ryan Donato entered the Olympic tournament with a grand total of seven games of experience on the international stage, with each and every one coming more than two years ago at the 2016 World Junior Championship. But youth and inexperience didn’t prevent Donato from playing the part of hero in Team USA’s second game in PyeongChang.
The 21-year-old pivot — a Boston Bruins second-round draft pick, 56th overall, in 2014 — didn’t waste any time getting the Americans on the board against Slovakia. On a U.S. power play early in the first period, Donato trailed the play while Troy Terry, another college standout who earned a spot on the roster, sliced through the Slovakian defense before dropping the puck in the slot. With room to work, Donato loaded up and beat Slovakian goaltender Jan Laco with a wrister.
The U.S. lead would be short-lived, however, as only 25 seconds later, Andrej Kudrna put a deft deflection on Tomas Surovy’s pass out front that eluded American netminder Ryan Zapolski. The game remained deadlocked 1-1 through the remainder of the first and the entirety of the second. Early in the third, though, Team USA went back to work on the power play after the Slovakians took an ill-advised too-many-men penalty. And, once again, Donato wasted no time capitalizing.
Working the net front with his back to the net, Donato shifted wide to accept a pass from Mark Arcobello, and once the Harvard standout had the puck on his stick, he shifted his body, spun out front and slipped his second goal of the game five-hole on Laco. Despite a few late attempts by the Slovakians, Donato’s second goal stood as the winner as Zapolski shut the door to help Team USA to a 2-1 victory and move into top spot in Group B.
STARS BREAK THROUGH AS RUSSIA TROUNCES SLOVENIA
The expectation heading into the Olympics was that the star-studded Olympic Athletes from Russia would be an offensive juggernaut, but that was far from the case in their tournament-opening game. However, the Russian squad more than made up for their offensive shortcomings against Slovakia by absolutely dismantling the Slovenians in their second outing.
It took a while for the Russians to get rolling, but after Sergei Mozyakin opened the scoring with a late first period goal and Ilya Kovalchuk doubled the lead 22 seconds later, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the rout was on. And in the second frame, OAR poured it on, getting goals from Alexander Barbanov, Ilya Kablukov, Kirill Kaprizov and a second from Kovalchuk. By the time the third was out, Kaprizov completed a hat trick and Slovenia, who had scored once in the second, added another tally, but it was far too little, far too late.
Kovalchuk finished the night with two goals and three points, Kaprizov had his three-goal night and Pavel Datsyuk registered a pair of assists as Russia locked up an 8-2 victory.
TOLVANEN CONTINUES TO IMPRESS AS FINLAND DOWNS NORWAY
The Nashville Predators already have had ample reason to be impressed with youngster Eeli Tolvanen, who has been a goal-scoring star in his rookie season in the KHL. But the Predators have to be salivating over the idea of getting Tolvanen into the NHL lineup in the near future with the performance he has pieced together through two games at the Olympics.
In the opener, Tolvanen notched one goal and four points, and for an encore against the Norwegians, the sharpshooting winger made his presence felt with two more goals, including the game-winning marker. Tolvanen’s first goal was a leveller coming on a power play late in the first with Norway out to an early 1-0 lead on the strength of a Patrick Thoresen tally, and the 18-year-old struck again five minutes in to the second on a slick backhand to put Finland ahead.
Over the next 40 minutes, Finland pulled away, breaking through with three goals to put a bow on a 5-1 victory. The win moves the Finns into a tie with Sweden atop Group C.
SWEDEN STAYS PERFECT WITH SECOND SHUTOUT WIN
Sweden has played 120 minutes of hockey at the Olympics, and, statistically, they’ve remained defensively perfect. After a convincing 4-0 shutout win against Norway to open the tournament, Sweden entered their second day of play with the Germans on the docket, and though the offense all but dried up — Viktor Stalberg scored Sweden’s lone goal two minutes into the contest — the defense, led by the play of goaltender Jhonas Enroth, was impregnable.
Despite surrendering five power plays to Germany throughout the contest, including a 5-on-3 late in the second, Sweden refused to break, while Enroth got some help from his posts along the way. In total, the Swedish goaltender had to turn aside 28 shots for the shutout.
1. Kirill Kaprizov (OAR): Minnesota Wild draft pick led the way with three goals in OAR’s win.
2. Eeli Tolvanen (FIN): Two goals, including the game-winner, as Finland downed Norway.
3. Jhonas Enroth (SWE): Stopped all 28 shots he faced as Sweden eked out a win over Germany.
Friday, Feb. 16
Czech Republic vs. Canada (M), 10:10 p.m. ET
Switzerland vs. OAR (W), 10:10 p.m. ET
Saturday, Feb. 17
Sweden vs. Finland (W), 2:40 a.m. ET
Switzerland vs. South Korea (M), 2:40 a.m. ET
Slovakia vs. Slovenia (M), 7:10 a.m. ET
USA vs. OAR (M), 7:10 a.m. ET
Norway vs. Germany (M), 10:10 p.m. ET
Korea vs. TBD (W), 10:10 p.m. ET