Ilya Kovalchuk scores twice as Russians outclass US

Fans unfurl Putin banners at Russian Olympic hockey game; security quickly takes them down

Russians, USA bounce back before Olympic hockey showdown

Ilya Kovalchuk and Nikolai Prokhorkin each scored twice earning the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation a bruising 4-0 win over the US men's ice hockey team on Saturday, to claim the top spot in their preliminary round group.

Entering the game, there were shades of 1980's Miracle on Ice matchup - though Russian Federation isn't almost the Goliath it was in those days - but there was no upset as the game went to the gold medal favorite.

Nikolai Prokharkin and Ilya Kovalchuk each scored twice as the Americans looked overmatched against the OAR squad filled with NHL-caliber talent.

It was a physical game from the moment the puck dropped, with the Russians, pound for pound a bigger team, leveling a hit on an American each time a US player touched the puck.

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"I think it was a learning experience for us", Granato explained when asked if it was important to play a team of that caliber in the preliminary round.

Granato doubled down after the loss on his pretournament comment that the US doesn't "need a miracle" to win.

U.S. goalie Ryan Zapolski, who received a vote of confidence from Granato after the game - "He's our goalie", Granato said - thinks the Russians are strong, but not unbeatable.

This night lacked the tense political subtext of the Cold War from the teams' 1980 meeting and the pomp and circumstance of Russian President Vladimir Putin attending and the pressure on the home team in Sochi in 2014, but it had the same kind of in-arena atmosphere.

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To make matters worse, Kovalchuk sniped a wrist shot just 28 seconds into the third period to extend OAR's advantage to four. "We get a couple of those, it's a different game going into third". But we just haven't found a way to score enough goals. But head coach Sarah Murray said they won't get blown away so easily this time. Terry has already figured out how he can succeed at the Olympics - using his young legs to generate the speed that not a lot of older players possess - to gain an upper hand.

Captain Jan Mursak scored the first goal for the Slovenians, who came from two goals down in the third period to beat the United States in overtime on Wednesday.

"I don't think Team US had any players that had this high-end skill or anything like that". The stars of the Ukrainian hockey every day comment for us played the fights and give predictions on the following match day.

"At times we were outmatched", forward Brian Gionta of the USA told NBC.

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The night's numbers also formed part of a 17 percent decline in ratings for NBC for this year's games over those in Sochi. With digital figured in, NBC's Total Audience Delivery for the Olympics climbed to 26 million Sunday night.

"The college guys that we have on our team have been doing really well, have been pulling their weight", Greenway said. "They are a hell of a team". "We're going to have to stay focused and not get caught up in who we're playing".

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