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Penguins reps shine in opening contests of Olympics

Evgeni Malkin celebrates with Russian teammate Alex Ovechkin following Ovechkin's goal in the first period against Slovenia.
Evgeni Malkin celebrates with Russian teammate Alex Ovechkin following Ovechkin's goal in the first period against Slovenia.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The men’s ice hockey competition of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia kicked off on Wednesday, and representatives from the Pittsburgh Penguins made their presence known.

Not a current Penguin, but it’s worth noting that Jaromir Jagr registered one of the two goals scored by the Czech Republic in their 4-2 loss to Sweden on Wednesday.

The present-day Penguins didn’t hit the ice until Thursday. First up was Team Finland with Jussi Jokinen and Olli Maatta. In their game against Austria (which was at 3:00 am/et, by the way), nineteen-year old Olli Maatta broke a 2-2 tie with a blast from the blue line that beat Austrian goaltender, Bernhard Starkbaum. In their 8-4 rout of the Austrian squad, Jussi Jokinen also added a goal of his own along with an assist on a goal by Sami Lepisto to tie the game at two in the first period. Finland’s next game is on Friday, February 14th against Norway at 12:00 pm/et.

Next up was Team USA with defensemen Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik, in addition to coaches Dan Bylsma and Tony Granato. The U.S. made quick work of Slovakia, defeating them 7-1. With the international rule of being allowed to dress twenty skaters, Orpik was the seventh defenseman dressed and was used in a penalty killing role with Martin. In 19:46 of ice time, Martin registered a single shot on goal while Orpik was a plus-three in 10:51. Neither defenseman registered a point, but each was involved in limiting Slovakia to only twenty-three shots on the night. Team USA next takes the ice on Saturday, February 15th against Evgeni Malkin and Team Russia at 7:30 am/et.

Playing at the same time as the United States/Slovakia contest was Evgeni Malkin and Team Russia as they took on Slovenia. Russia was able to survive a second period scare to eventually put away Slovenia, 5-2. Out of those five Russian goals, Malkin accounted for one and assisted on the opening goal by Alex Ovechkin at 1:17 of the first period and Ilya Kovalchuk’s second period goal to put Russia ahead 3-1. Malkin looks to keep his hot start going on Saturday against his Pittsburgh head coach, Dan Bylsma and the United States.

Finally, there was Team Canada to put a cap on the night. Canada was able to shake off a slow opening period to defeat Norway, 3-1 on Thursday. The duo of Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz weren’t visible on the score sheet, but Kunitz did pick-up a two minute slashing penalty in the third period. Kunitz and Crosby recorded 14:39 and 15:41 of ice time, respectively, and were joined on the top line by Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings. Canada also plays Friday, February 14th against Austria at 12:00 pm/et.

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