It wasn’t a win, but it was still good.
That’s how Russia’s captain, Alex Ovechkin, saw last night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the World Cup favorites from Canada. The Russians actually managed to take a 2-1 lead in the third period, until a John Tavares shot sent it to sudden death with just over six minutes left in regulation. Ryan Getzlaf would then notch the winner in 3-on-3.
“Mentally it was very important for us that we didn’t lose the game right away,” said Ovechkin, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “We have a battle, get the lead. The boys feel much better right now for the future. …From our standpoint it was huge.”
Granted, the Canadians outshot their opponents by a wide margin, 48-26. If not for a solid Sergei Bobrovsky performance in goal, the final score wouldn’t have been so close.
But in the second period especially, Ovechkin felt the Russians held their own.
“I think we have a slow start, we play kind of slowly and we afraid to make mistake,” he said. “But in the second period, we play a great game. We played in their zone.”
Russia opens the World Cup tournament for real on Sunday against a stacked Sweden side. The Swedes will almost certainly improve on last night’s embarrassing loss to Team Europe, but they did look vulnerable in exhibition action, particularly in their own end.
Also in Russia’s group are Finland and Team North America.