Slovenia, which is ranked 15th by the International Ice Hockey Federation (the U.S.is ranked fifth), achieved its late-game comeback Wednesday in large part thanks to team captain Jan Mursak.
"We hit a lot of posts, we had a lot of chances and we're not going to worry about the scoreboard", USA coach Robb Stauber said. Turnovers and penalty trouble plagued them into overtime. Captain Jan Mursak, who had four points in 46 career National Hockey League games with the Detroit Red Wings, tied it up with 1:37 left in regulation and netted the OT victor before the ice could dry.
Both of Canada's goals came in an eight-minute span in the second period, Meghan Agosta first taking a pass from Natalie Sponner and flicking a wrister off US goalie Maddie Rooney's left pad and into the net.
"When you do those little things right, when the seal breaks, it's going to break open and we believe that if we stick to the process of outshooting teams two-to-one, it's not a matter of is it going to happen, it's a matter of when", Stauber said.
The Olympic hockey schedule has all teams, men's and women's, starting games at varied hours. Of the 60, 19 are Slovenian.More news: 3438 civilians killed in Afghanistan previous year
With five days to prepare for the first game on February 14 against Slovenia, a lifetime in comparison with past Olympic preparations, Granato is thrilled about how this team has come together both on and off the ice.
But there is experience in other leagues aside from the NHL.
Captain Chris Kelly, a Stanley Cup victor with the Boston Bruins, says the team is ready to play.
But Boston College has one more connection to add to its Olympic ice hockey cap: The captain of the men's team, Brian Gionta, graduated from Boston College and was the school's men's hockey captain in 2001. The U.S. now has two more games in preliminary round play - against Slovakia and the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) - before either moving on to elimination rounds or playing in the consolation rounds.
For example, you could have a Canada-Sweden Gold Medal Game and then feature Conor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and others in an Edmonton Oilers-Pittsburgh Penguins game five days later to kick off the second half of the season. But the Americans' energy inexplicably flagged in the third, to the surprise of coach Tony Granato. Naturally, he's going to get stronger with time but could be an immediate help for the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators or whoever wins the draft lottery for the chance to plug Dahlin in on their blue line.
Russian Federation had no such excuse.More news: Our first look at Nokia's Android One, Android Go smartphones
Ovechkin, whose mother Tatyana is a former gold medal winning basketball player, has cited numerous times during his career that winning a gold medal is very important to him.
Mursak played 25 games for Detroit in 2011-12 and two more in 2012-13.
While crediting its opponent's effort, OAR was also frustrated by the team's lack of execution.
"There is no real pressure on us, no real big expectations".
Group B is suddenly in a state of upheaval.
Russian Federation is an eight-time Olympic champion in ice hockey, including seven victories of the Soviet team and an additional victory as a team of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1992. Russian Federation has a big fat zero.More news: Ice hockey: Women's knockout round set with Canada on top