Olympics

Russia-Slovakia Preview

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Russia was dejected after suffering a heartbreaking defeat in the marquee game of the preliminary round.

Winless Slovakia has had an even rougher go in Sochi.

Russia tries to bounce back against Slovakia, which could be without Tomas Kopecky as these countries conclude their round-robin slate Sunday.

After opening Group A play with Thursday's 5-2 victory over Slovenia, Russia fell 3-2 to the United States in an eight-round shootout Saturday. Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves in his Olympic debut before allowing four goals in the shootout, all of which came from T.J. Oshie.

"It was a good game, very interesting," said Evgeni Malkin, who failed to record a point. "Two, I think, best teams played, and showed OK hockey. But shootouts is lucky."

Andrei Markov assisted on both of Pavel Datsyuk's goals, and Alexander Radulov was also credited with an assist.

"The U.S. team is a good team and a good test for us," Datsyuk said. "We played good, but the result is not good."

The result could have been much better if Fedor Tyutin's blast from the blue line with 4:40 remaining in regulation stood up. However, officials waved off what appeared to be the go-ahead goal after reviews showed the net came off its moorings.

"I think, (U.S. goalie Jonathan) Quick may have pushed the net off on purpose," defenseman Slava Voynov, whose team went 1 for 6 on the power play, told the IIHF's official website. "I know him and he sometimes does these things. But we shouldn't have let this decide the game. We need to score more."

Superstar Alex Ovechkin missed each of his team-high seven shots, and Malkin came up empty on four.

"Obviously, they're the host country and there's a lot of pressure on them," Quick said. "They're a great team and they're going to keep playing and they'll be there toward the end. We know that."

The Slovaks, meanwhile, are still seeking their first win after falling 7-1 to the United States on Thursday and 3-1 to Slovenia on Saturday. Slovakia, which features 12 NHL players to the Slovenes' one, was shut out until Tomas Jurco scored with 18 seconds left in the game.

"It's not going well for our team but hopefully we can shake it up before the next game," Jurco said.

Doing so could prove more difficult than usual with Kopecky uncertain to be available. The two-time Olympian was knocked out Saturday after taking an elbow to the head in the first period.

"It was a really bad game for us, but in this competition we are seeing the underdogs playing really, really well," Tomas Tatar said. "We will go away and figure out what we need to do and hopefully (Sunday) we will be better against Russia."

Jaroslav Halak will likely need to pick up the pace if Slovakia hopes to have a shot. He stopped just 20 of 25 shots before getting pulled against the United States, then made 28 saves Saturday.

Halak is now 3-6 over two trips to the Olympics.

Russia will go back to Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 12 of 14 shots against Slovenia on Thursday.

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