Russians, USA fall in NHL-less openers

Canada women's curling

Jan Mursak, formerly of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals for Slovenia.

Brian O'Neill and Jordan Greenway, who became the first African-American hockey player for the U.S.at an Olympics, scored to build the 2-0 lead in a dominant showing, and the shots were 24-12 after two periods. Slovakia's 3-2 victory over the favored Olympic Athletes of Russian Federation on Wednesday provided additional reason to believe this is going to be a wild ride because the talent level doesn't differ much when teams are deploying players from the KHL and second-tier leagues in Europe.

That said, with gold medal favorites Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation also falling in their first game to Slovakia, it appears that the top spot on the podium is still very much up for grabs.

Ryan Zapolski made 22 saves as the United States failed to protect a two-goal lead in the final period.

BC-OLY-HKO-Russia-Slovakia, 1st Ld-Writethru, 514Russian gold-medal favorites lose opening game to SlovakiaAP Photo OLYMH129, OLYMH128, OLYMH119, OLYMH117, OLYMH111, OLYMH120Eds: Updates with more detail, quotes.

But things changed in the third period. This is unacceptable. We play Slovakia tomorrow and we better damn well win that game, or we're in deep trouble. Russian Federation will need to win out against the US and Slovenia to earn a bye, and another loss could see them end up with a bad path to the gold medal game.

It was a come-from-behind victory for Slovenia, who trailed the Americans until the 46th minute, when Blaž Gregorc scored to reduce the USA lead to 2-1. The U.S. easily beat Slovenia back then with a 5-1 win in the final preliminary match ahead of the Olympic playoffs.

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Granato kept Team USA's starting goalie under wraps much of a lead-up to the Games, but on Tuesday gave Ryan Zapolski the nod in net for the opener.

The U.S. Men's Olympic Ice Hockey Team will be competing in Group B with Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Ceresnak capitalised on delay of a game penalty taken by Ivan Telegin, unleashing a slap shot from the point that beat goaltender Vasili Koshechkin to his left with just over 10 minutes to play.

The U.S. now sits in third place in Group B with one point to their name.

"We started well, we scored two goals and we could have scored more, but their goalie played well", Kovalchuk told reporters. Many spent stints in the NHL - five games here, 10 more there - before turning to a journeyman career in European leagues. 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.

While Granato's words sound great in theory, the United States did not match Slovenia's tempo in the third period. "We need to be our best and play our best".

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