The preliminary round of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics men's hockey tournament came to an end with an overtime win over Team Finland by Team Canada Sunday, February 16. Earlier in the day, Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks played a major role in Team USA earning the second seed for the quarterfinals round.
He is among the pictured top stars for hooking up with line-mate Phil Kessel on all three of his goals to start the game—a natural hat trick. The Americans played a puck-possession game and out-shot Team Slovenia 28-18, with 2010 Vancouver Olympics MVP Ryan Miller turning away 17 of the shots faced.
Brooks Orpik had the secondary assist on the second goal, while Pavelski had the primary helper on that one as well as the only assist on the first score. It was the former captain of the Wisconsin Badgers whose shot went from James van Riemsdyk to Kessel to finish off the natural hat trick mid-way through the second.
The 26-year old Kessel (four goals, three assists in the Sochi Olympics) has ties to both players to help with chemistry. He grew up within minutes of where the 29-year old Pavelski (one goal, three assists) played collegiate hockey, and now the Madison native plays with van Riemsdyk (four assists) on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
By the time Ryan McDonagh became the first American not named Kessel to score (from Blake Wheeler and Saturday's shootout hero T.J. Oshie) 12:15 into the second period, Group A was already won. When Team Canada failed to finish off Team Finland until after regulation, Team USA had the second seed in the quarterfinals round.
David Backes scored in the opening minutes of the third period (from Ryan Callahan and Dustin Brown), and Miller fell 18 seconds short of a shutout when Marcel Rodman put home goal to give an assist to his brother David and Jan Urbas. Thanks to their first Olympic hockey win in history, Slovenia will be the "home team" against Team Austria for a chance to get into the quarterfinals.
The Canadians took the third seed when Drew Doughty scored his second game-winning goal of the Sochi Olympics with a slap-shot 2:32 into overtime that Tuukka Rask could not stop. The Finns still took the fourth seed and did earn a bye in the first round.
San Jose's Antti Niemi did not play for Finland, which looks to be headed for a tilt with Team Russia in the quarterfinals after the hosts needed a shootout to beat winless Team Slovakia. Neither Marc-Edouard Vlasic nor Patrick Marleau contributed to Canada's win, registering just one shot on goal each while being on the ice for only the score allowed.
Team Canada looks to be facing the defensively-stout Team Switzerland in the quarterfinals. Team USA will take on the winner of the rival Team Czech Republic-Team Slovakia matchup. It will take two wins over their three games to earn a medal and three for any of the Sharks to take the gold.