By Stuart Lieberman | Feb. 17, 2018, 10:23 a.m. (ET)
Ryan Zapolski defends the net against Olympic Athletes from Russia during a men's ice hockey preliminary round game at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 17, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.


Entering Saturday, the last time the U.S. men’s ice hockey team faced Russia at the Olympics, T.J. Oshie scored four times in six shootout attempts to help the U.S. secure the win during preliminary round play at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.

Team USA had no such magic, though, on Saturday at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, falling flat in its final preliminary round game against the Olympic Athletes from Russia by a score of 4-0.

Nikolai Prokhorkin opened the scoring for the OAR at 7:21 into the first period at the Gangneung Hockey Centre and never looked back. 

Prokhorkin doubled the lead for the OAR with a point-blank wrister — right past U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski — from the top of the circle just 2:14 into the second stanza. With two-tenths of a second left in the period, Ilya Kovalchuk finished off a rough and physical 20 minutes by recording his third goal of the tournament and the third of the game for the OAR. 

Kovalchuk struck again 28 seconds into the third period to extend the OAR’s lead to four. 

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The U.S., led by the four shots on goal and brute physicality of Boston University’s Jordan Greenway, was unable to capitalize even once at the net on their 29 total opportunities in the game.

Team USA finished the preliminary round with just four goals in three games, and four points in the Group B standings, meaning it will have to play a qualification playoff game on Tuesday. 

With NHL players not on the U.S. roster for the first time since the 1994 Games, every member of Team USA is making their Olympic debut aside from 39-year-old captain Brian Gionta, who played at the Torino 2006 Games.

Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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