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Penguins reps shine in opening contests of Olympics

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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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