NBC Olympics staff will select three stars to spotlight special performers from each day’s competition.
Pavel Datsyuk, Olympic Athletes from Russia: At 39-years-old, Datsyuk cannot take over a game like he did so many times for the Detroit Red Wings. However, his understanding of the sport has not disappeared, which was evident on his wonderful cross-ice pass to set up the first OAR goal. But, his positioning before the goal and ability to get into a passing lane in order to create a turnover was a perfect display of the wisdom Datsyuk possesses. After the win, Datsyuk will play for a gold medal and have the chance to become the 28th member of the Triple-Gold Club as an Olympic gold medalist, Stanley Cup champion and World Championship winner.
Patrick Hager, Germany: Every member of the German team deserves credit for its incredible run to the gold-medal final. Nevertheless, it was Hager who scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal during a second-period power play to extend Germany’s advantage to 4-1. He also supplied the assist on Matthias Plachta’s goal earlier in the period, which gave the Germans a shocking 2-0 lead.
Vasily Koshechkin, Olympic Athletes from Russia: The veteran goalie stopped all 31 shots he faced to help OAR reach the gold-medal game. Koshechkin is one of the few players on OAR not from SKA Saint Petersburg or CSKA Moscow of the KHL, but he has clearly proven to be the right choice to start between the pipes. The hard-working Czechs were unable to create traffic in front of Koschechkin, and with a clear view, the net minder stopped shot after shot.
“He’s been our best player this tournament,” forward Mikhail Grigorenko said of his goaltender. “He made some huge saves tonight.”