Ice hockey: Russia win but wait on bye to quarter-finals

Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:39am EST
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By Steve Keating

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia battled to a 1-0 shootout win over Slovakia to close out preliminary round play in the Olympic men's ice hockey tournament on Sunday but will have to wait to see if it was enough for a bye into the quarter-finals.

With a three periods and overtime unable to produce a result and the score 0-0, Russia faced a shootout for the second consecutive day.

Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov scored past Slovakian netminder Jan Laco to give the host nation a heart-stopping win and a chance to go directly through to the last eight.

With the United States securing top spot in Group A with a 5-1 win over Slovenia, Russia will finish runners-up and will now have to rely on having the best second place record to secure the free pass.

Russia have made tough work of the preliminary round, scrapping to a win over minnows Slovenia in their opener followed by an epic eight-round shootout loss to the United States on Saturday and a shootout victory over winless Slovakia.

"Overall we've played well. Everybody wants to beat Russia at home," said Russian forward Alex Ovechkin. "It's the Olympic Games; nobody wants to make mistakes.

"We take what we take, and we're going to play in the future."

With the distraction of the 'Miracle on Ice' rematch with the United States behind them, the Russians came out focused on the business of getting to the final which will be decided next Sunday, the final medal of the Games.   Continued...

Russia's Alexander Radulov (L) scores on Slovakia's goalie Jan Laco on his team's first shootout attempt during their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor