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To say Slovenia was an underdog coming into the competition might be overstating it. There’s pretty much no way they’re going to have a legitimate shot at medal contention when going up against such strong powerhouses such as the US, Canada, Sweden, Russia and Finland (say what you will about Finland’s defense, but they have incredible goaltending and the Finnish Flash!). That said, they did a really good job hanging with Russia while being pretty much outplayed for most of the game.

Russia took an early lead with Ovechkin scoring a goal just 1:17 into the opening frame. Shortly after that, they doubled their lead with a goal from Malkin. The Russians came out flying in the first period and really dominated the Slovenian team. By the end of the first, Russia had 18 shots on goal to Slovenia’s 4.

But credit to the Slovenians for not giving up. They played a much better period in the second and scored two goals (their only two, sadly). At 1:43, Ziga Jeglic (pronounced Yeg-lich) cut the host team’s lead in half when he beat a screened Varlamov to score Slovenia’s first ever Olympic goal. For a while, there was a flurry going both ways (neither team was doing an excellent job defending, though the Slovenians did pretty good keeping most of Russia’s shots to the outside) and Robert Kristan, the Slovenian goalie, looked like he might be able to hang with a far superior opponent. However, momentum shifted Russia’s way when Ilya Kovalchuk sniped a goal top shelf on the power play and restored the 2 goal lead. That didn’t sit well with Jeglic as he drove the net, held off two defenders and managed to sneak the puck past Varlamov to bring his country back within one. Anze Kopitar got the secondary assist on Jeglic’s goal for his first Olympic career point.

The third saw a resurgence from the Russians. Valeri Nichushkin walked in on Kristan while fighting off a lone defenseman who attempted to stop him and once again, padded the host’s lead by two. Anton Belov added the final nail in the coffin with a slapshot goal that Kristan was unhappy with.

Kristan managed to stop 30 of 35 shots, which is pretty amazing considering the offensive firepower that Team Russia possesses. And it’s also great when considering that Slovenia’s defense is not very mobile and did not help out their goalie a whole lot in this game.

Anze Kopitar played 20:18 (his average TOI in Los Angeles is 21:14. He was credited with only one shot on goal, picked up a secondary assist, had 2 PIM and won 18 of 25 faceoffs (72%).

(Photo: Getty Images via LA Kings Insider)

Slava Voynov did a good job defensively for his home country. Sometimes the best defensemen are not noticeable and though he is an offensive minded defenseman, his first duty is still to defend and he did that well. He registered one shot on goal, had an even rating and played 16:26 (his average TOI in Los Angeles is around 20 minutes).

Jon Rosen at LA Kings Insider compiled some pictures from Getty Images of the Slovenia-Russia game.

Jeglic's Second Goal

Next up for Team Slovenia: they take on Slovakia who will be looking to redeem themselves after a poor first outing in Thursday’s game. The match is scheduled to take place on February 15 at 3am ET (12pm local time in Sochi).

Next up for Team Russia: Arguably one of their more difficult opponents in the prelims, they square off against the US on February 15 at 7:30 am ET (4:30pm local time in Sochi).

Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, I sort of grew up an LA Kings fan by default. My dad was into hockey and then my brother got into hockey and I found that I sorta liked this hockey stuff. Go Kings.

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