If you're a Washington Capitals fan and watched Team Russia's first game of the 2010 Olympics, the Caps influence was unmistakable. Russia dominated the Latvian team, and earned their first victory of the tournament with a dominant 8-2 win. Alexander Ovechkin and Danis Zaripov led the way with a pair of goals each.
Early on, it was a former Capital doing the damage for Russia. Sergei Fedorov assisted on the first two goals - one to Zaripov just 2:38 into the game, and the other to Alexander Radulov at 7:46. Some questioned the ability of the 40-year old Fedorov to keep up with the young team of offensive superstars, but he looked like the savvy veteran that he is, as most of the Russian team seemed a little tight to start. "We tried to play quick hockey – on net," Fedorov said. "I mean, the first game everybody is always a little bit nervous. That's natural. But we found a way."
The Caps combination of Ovechkin and Alexander Semin got on the scoresheet late in the first. Semin stole the puck from defenseman Guntis Galvins deep in the Latvian zone, picked out Ovi in the slot and with the snap of the superstar's stick, it was 3-0 Russia.
The second period was a yawn-fest, with the only goal coming from Evgeni Malkin on the power play at 18:18. Russia was finally able to take advantage of the extra man after having three straight power plays in the second. Maxim Afinogenov and Ilya Kovalchuk drew assists on the goal.
Latvia looked like they might make a game of it in the third, when Herbert Vasiljevs scored just 33 seconds in; but Ovechkin put out that fire almost instantly. The Great 8 scored one of his trademark goals when he whipped down the left side of the ice, and fired a shot over Edgars Masalskis' right shoulder just 26 seconds after Latvia had made it 4-1. Ovi's goal not only deflated the Latvian team, but seemed to chum the water for the Russian sharks. Zaripov added his second of the game 30 seconds after Ovechkin's goal, Kovalchuk got his first 90 seconds after that, and it was 7-1 for Russia before you could say, "Dasvidania."
Latvia got one back from Girts Ankipans to make it 7-2, before Russian captain Alexi Morozov closed out the scoring.
Despite the game's ten goals, it was somehow a pretty dull affair. Five of the game's goals came in a three-minute span in the third, and other than that spurt of excitement, there wasn't much flow to the game. Some of that was likely due to the fact that Latvia was grossly outmatched, but the rest may have been due to the malaise of a 9pm Pacific time start. It may not have been much of a game, but the Russians showed that they have the fire power that everyone expected them to have.
Team Russia will face Slovakia on Thursday.