More later on the wild happenings of the Russia-U.S. hockey game, seen on NBC Sports Network during the early-morning of the West Coast. But after all the hype — yes, color commentator Ed Olcyk actually said, "The wow is now," before puck-drop and the pregame intro included the line "Some cold wars don't end" — could the game have ended with a better made-for-TV moment?
The first U.S.-Russia Olympic game on Russian soil since the iconic Miracle on Ice 34 years before not only went to overtime but to a shootout, that modern, winner-take-all invention that’s practically custom-built for the NBC highlight reel.
In case you were still turning over when it happened a little past 7 a.m. Saturday morning, what went down is this.
After a thrilling three periods in which the score was tied 2-2, with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick making some big saves, not to mention one goalpost-displacement that had members of the Russian team crying foul in post-game pressers, the teams were tied after the OT session.
Enter the shootout, in which, unlike the NHL, teams could send the same player out to shoot again and again. U.S. coach Dan Bylsma did just that, sending St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie, primarily on the team for his penalty-killing skills, to the red line six times. He would score on four of his shots. Most significantly, in sudden-death Round 8, after a big save by Quick, Oshie teed it up and put one past Russian goalie Sergei Boborovsky, enshrining his place in highlight reels to come.
There are, as several Russian players reminded, still some medal round games likely to come for both teams. So the prime-time moment may be short-lived. Still, the TV excitement was abundant. Commentators didn’t scream, “Do you believe in Oshie? Yes!” when it was all over. But viewers were likely screaming it for them.