Grey days for Putin as US win epic game

22:38, Feb 16 2014
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen
Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen equalled compatriot Bjorn Dahlie's Winter Games record of 12 medals after claiming gold in the men's biathlon 10km sprint.
Andi Langenhan
Germany's Andi Langenhan takes off from the start in the men's singles luge competition.
Zhang Kexin
China's Zhang Kexin competes during the figure skating team ladies short program.
Tereza Vaculikova
Tereza Vaculikova of the Czech Republic crashes out in the ladies' moguls qualification.
Nicole Parks
Australia's Nicole Parks performs a jump during the women's freestyle skiing moguls qualification round.
Jayna Hefford
Canada's Jayna Hefford shoots on Switzerland's Florence Schelling during their women's ice hockey group game.
Reuters
American Sage Kotsenburg celebrates with his gold medal, the first awarded in Sochi.
Anders Bardal
Norway's Anders Bardal soars through the air during his trial jump in the men's ski jumping individual normal hill qualification round.
Sven Kramer
Gold medalist Sven Kramer competes in the men's 5000m speed skating event.
Women's skiathlon
The field in the women's skiathlon, won by Norway's Marit Bjoergen, head away from the start.
Winter Olympics
Julia Mancuso of the USA celebrates in the finish area after competing during the downhill run of the women's alpine skiing super combined event.
Winter Olympics
Germany's skip John Jahr delivers a stone during their men's curling round robin game against Canada.
Winter Olympics
Canada's Zina Kocher shoots during the women's biathlon 7.5km sprint event.
Winter Olympics
Estonia's Grete Gaim reacts after crossing the finish line during the women's biathlon 7.5km sprint event.
Winter Olympics
Irene Wust of the Netherlands skates to first place during the women's 3000m speed skating.
Winter Olympics
Winner Germany's Felix Loch celebrates after completing his final run in the men's singles luge competition.
Dara Howell
Canadian Dara Howell on her way to gold in the women's freestyle skiing slopestyle.
Danny Davis
American Danny Davis competes in the men's snowboard halfpipe qualifying.
Curling arena
A view of the curling arena during men's pool matches.
Jennifer Harss
German netminder Jennifer Harss reaches back but can't prevent Sweden from scoring.
Lee Sang-hwa
Lee Sang-hwa skates a victory lap with the South Korean flag after blitzing the Olympic record to win the women's 500m.
Russian fans
Russian ice hockey fans wave flags during a game between Sweden and Germany.
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch makes her way down in her slalom run in the women's super combined.
Russian hockey
The Russian men's ice hockey team stretch at centre-ice during a practice session.
Sarah Reid
Canada's Sarah Reid shows off her spooky helmet during a skeleton training run.
Paul De La Cuesta
Spain's Paul De La Cuesta prepares to start during the downhill run of the men's alpine skiing super combined training session.
Skeleton helmets
A montage of skeleton racers' helmets, including New Zealand's Ben Sandford (top line, third left)
Olympic flame
Tourists watch as workers repel down the Olympic flame structure in Sochi.
Charles Hamelin
Charles Hamelin of Canada celebrates his victory in the men's 1500m short track speed skating final.
Aleksey Pavlenko
Russia's Aleksey Pavlenko performs a jump during the men's freestyle skiing moguls qualification round.
Norway curling
Norway's skip Thomas Ulsrud (right) delivers the stone during their men's curling round robin game against the USA.
Sochi Olympics 2014
Coline Mattel of France wins the bronze medal at the women's ski jumping.
Sochi Olympics 2014
Sarah Hendrickson of the US soars through the air at the women's ski jumping.
Sochi Olympics 2014
South Korea's Lee Sang-hwa skates during the women's 500 metres speed skating race.
Sochi Olympics 2014
Members of Japan's women's ice hockey team bow to the crowd after their loss to Russia.
Eric Frenzel
Germany's Eric Frenzel crosses the line ahead of Japan's Akito Watabe to win the men's nordic combined normal hill event.
Kendall Coyne
A referee falls on Team USA's Kendall Coyne after she collided with Canada's Meaghan Mikkelson during the first period of their women's ice hockey game.
Dorin Velicu
Romania's Dorin Velicu speeds down the track during a men's skeleton training event at the Sanki Sliding Center in Rosa Khutor.
Martins Dukurs
Latvia's Martins Dukurs is reflected in the sunglasses of an Olympic volunteer as he speeds down the track during a men's skeleton training run.
Dominique Gisin
Switzerland's Dominique Gisin speeds down the course on her way to tying for gold in the women's alpine skiing downhill.
Kelly Clark
Kelly Clark of the US flies high above the halfpipe during the women's snowboard qualification round.
Norwegian curling
Norway's second Christoffer Svae delivers a stone during their men's curling round robin game against Germany.
Sochi Olympic flame
A tourist poses under a set of Olympic rings as the sun rises on the Sochi Olympic Park.
Switzerland's Dominique Gisin and Slovenia's Tina Maze
Joint gold medalists Switzerland's Dominique Gisin and Slovenia's Tina Maze step onto the podium together, next to an empty step for silver at the flower ceremony for the women's downhill.
Stephanie Magiros
Australia's Stephanie Magiros waits for her score during the women's snowboard halfpipe qualifying round.
Joss Christensen
Gold medalist Joss Christensen (left) bumps knuckles with bronze medalist Nicholas Goepper after the USA swept the men's ski slopestyle podium.
Monique Angermueller
Germany's Monique Angermueller crashes out of the women's 1000m speed skating semifinals.
Andrei Markov
Russia's Andrei Markov (left) chases down Slovenia's Ziga Jeglic for the puck during the second period of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game.
Michael Christian Martinez
Michael Christian Martinez of the Philippines competes during the men's figure skating short program.
Dutch fans
Dutch fans cheer on their athletes during speed skating action at the Adler Arena.
Kexin Fan
China's Kexin Fan collides face-first with a Games volunteer after crashing out of the women's 500m semifinals.
Sandro Viletta
Super combined gold medalist Sandro Viletta of Switzerland in action during the downhill.
Zhang Xin
China's Zhang Xin crashes during the women's aerials qualifying.
Martin Fourcade
France's Martin Fourcade (centre) on the medal dais for the men's biathlon 20km individual event.
Norwegian curling pants
The latest in pants choice by the Norwegian men's curling team.
Melissa Hollingsworth
Canada's Melissa Hollingsworth dons a cowboy hat after completing her last run in the women's skeleton.
Igor Laikert
Bosnia and Herzogovina's Igor Laikert gets airborne during the downhill phase of the men's super combined.
Ioan Valeriu Achiriloaie
Romania's Ioan Valeriu Achiriloaie gets caught up in the safety nets during his downhill run in the men's super combined.
Course sweepers
Course sweepers make their way down the mountain at Rosa Khutor.
Daniel Alfredsson
Daniel Alfredsson celebrates his game-winning goal in Sweden's 1-0 win against Switzerland.
Xu Mengtao
China's Xu Mengtao competes during the women's aerials qualifying.
Christof Innerhofer
Bronze medalist Christof Innerhofer of Italy does a forward roll to get on the men's super combined podium.
John Fairbairn
Canada's John Fairbairn, who finished seventh, powers away from the start of his final skeleton run.
Charles Hamelin
Canada's Charles Hamelin (left) and USA's Eduardo Alvarez crash out of the men's 1000m short track speed skating event.
Charlotte Kalla
Charlotte Kalla crosses the finish line as her Sweden team-mates celebrate winning the women's 4x5km relay gold.
Skeleton lips
An American fan's lips at the skeleton event show off the USA flag.
Jason Lamy Chappuis
France's Jason Lamy Chappuis takes a practice jump from the large hill before the men's nordic combined event.
Emma Eliasson
Sweden's Emma Eliasson shoves Finland's Linda Valimaki into the boards during their preliminary round game.
Anna Fenninger
Austria's Anna Fenninger scorches her way down the piste on her way to gold in the women's super-G.
Pavel Datsyuk
Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk sneaks the puck by USA goalie Jonathan Quick during the second period of their game.
TJ Oshie
USA's TJ Oshie celebrates his game-winning goal against Russia's Sergei Bobrovski in the eighth round of the shootout.
Viktor Ahn
Viktor Ahn and Vladimir Grigorev celebrate a Russian 1-2 in the men's 1000m short track race.
Yevgeni Malkin
Yevgeni Malkin lies on the ice after being hit in the face by a stick during Russia's 3-1 loss to Finland in the men's ice hockey quarterfinals.
Patrizia Kummer
Switzerland's Patrizia Kummer screams after claiming gold in the women's snowboard parallel giant slalom.
Marit Bjoergen
Gold medalists Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg and Marit Bjoergen of Norway leap for the cameras after being part of the winning Norwegian team in the women's team sprint classic.
Ted Ligety
Ted Ligety exorcised some Olympic demons with victory in the men's giant slalom.
Ted Ligety
American Ted Ligety gets a little loose going around a gate during his second giant slalom run.
EJ Harnden
Canada's second EJ Harnden shouts as China's third Xu Xiaoming (left) and skip Liu Rui (right) look on and Canada's vice Ryan Fry and lead Ryan Harnden stand nearby during their men's curling semifinal game.
Finland-Russia hockey
Russia's Anton Belov (right) checks Finland's Olli Jokinen during the first period of their men's ice hockey quarterfinal.
Finland-Russia hockey
Finland's Leo Komarov (71) and Ossi Vaananen (4) deal with Alexander Radulov after the Russian crashed into Finland netminder Tuuka Rask.
Olga Graf and Shiho Ishizawa
Russia's Olga Graf (left) and Japan's Shiho Ishizawa skate during the women's 5000 metres speed skating finals.
Poland's pilot Dawid Kupczyk
Poland's pilot Dawid Kupczyk (right) and his teammates link hands ahead of a run during a four-man bobsleigh training session at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
Joergen Graabak
Norway's Joergen Graabak holds off German Fabian Riessle's desperate lunge at the finish line to win the men's team large hill nordic combined 4x5km relay event.
Norway nordic combined team
The victorious Norwegian men's nordic combined team slide in celebration as they head to the podium for the flower ceremony.
Skicross final
Eventual gold medalist Jean Frederic Chapuis of France (yellow) leads in his ski-cross semifinal.
Skicross final
France's Jean Frederic Chapuis (left) leads compatriots Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol and Canada's Brady Leman in the men's ski-cross final.
Fanny Rask
Sweden's Fanny Rask skates between gloves, masks and sticks discarded by the victorious Swiss team.
Women's ski halfpipe
Annalisa Drew, Brita Sigourney (centre) and Maddie Bowman (top) practice during warm sessions ahead of the women's ski halfpipe qualification round.
Canada curling
Canada's second Jill Officer (left) and lead Dawn McEwen (right) prepare to sweep as skip Jennifer Jones delivers a stone in their women's gold medal curling game against Sweden.
Switzerland curling
Switzerland's Carmen Kueng delivers a stone during the women's bronze medal curling game against Great Britain.
Mikaela Shiffrin
Mikaela Shiffrin on her way to becoming the youngest Olympic slalom champion.
Mikaela Shiffrin
American teen Mikaela Shiffrin crosses the line to win the women's slalom by 0.53 seconds.
Canadian curlers
Canada's second EJ Harnden (left) hugs wife Rachelle as skip Brad Jacobs hugs wife Shawna after winning men's curling gold.
Sidney Crosby
Canadian star Sidney Crosby skates during warm-ups ahead of their semifinal against the USA.
Italy bobsled
Pilot Simone Bertazzo of Italy speeds down the track during a four-man bobsleigh training run at the Sanki sliding centre in this multiple exposure image.
Valerie Maltais
Canada's Valerie Maltais' disappointment is evident after crashing out of the women's 1000m short track semifinals.
Bernadette Schild
Austria's Bernadette Schild sits on the snow, with head in hands after crashing during her second run of the women's slalom.
Viktor Ahn
Russia's Viktor Ahn collected his second and third gold medals in Sochi on Day 14, and fifth and sixth overall.
Jamie Benn
Canada's Jamie Benn (centre) celebrates his second period goal that proved the difference in the semifinal.
Biathlon team relay
Russia's Yana Romanova prepares to shoot next to Vita Semerenko (right) during the women's biathlon 4x6 km relay event.
Mario Matt
Austria's Mario Matt held off compatriot Marcel Hirscher to become the oldest alpine skiing gold medal winner.
Finland bench
Towels go flying as the Finland bench pour onto the ice to celebrate their 5-0 rout of the USA in the men's ice hockey bronze medal game.
Norwegian skiers
Norway's Marit Bjoergen, Kristin Stoermer Steira and Therese Johaug (left to right) lead during the women's cross-country 30 km mass start free event.
Norwegian skiers
Norway's Therese Johaug, Marit Bjoergen and Kristin Stoermer Steira (left to right) celebrate after winning the women's cross-country 30 km mass start free event.
Anton Shipulin
Russia's Anton Shipulin lets out a scream after crossing the line ahead of Germany's Simon Schempp in the men's 4x7.5km biathlon relay.
Martins Onskulis
Latvia's Martins Onskulis in action in the men's slalom in this multiple exposure image.
Denis Yuskov
Denis Yuskov leads team-mates Aleksey Yesin and Aleksandr Rumyantsev during the men's speed skating team pursuit finals.
Patrick Thaler
Italy's Patrick Thaler gets a face full of snow after crashing out of the men's slalom.
Dutch skaters
Dutch speed skaters Marrit Leenstra, Jorien Ter Mors, Lotte van Beek and Irene Wust kiss their gold medals after dominating the women's team pursuit final.
Kim
South Korea's Kim Yuna performs during the figure skating gala exhibition.
Sidney Crosby
Sidney Crosby celebrates his second period goal in Canada's 3-0 victory over Sweden in the men's ice hockey gold medal game.
Alexander Zubkov
Russian pilot Alexander Zubkov and team-mate Alexey Negodaylo raise their arms triumphantly after winning the four-man bobsled gold at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
Alexander Legkov
Silver medalist Maxim Vylegzhanin, gold medalist Alexander Legkov and bronze medalist Ilia Chernousov after the host nation swept the podium in the men's 50km mass start cross-country race.
Men's 50km mass start
Competitors in the men's 50km mass start cross-country race head past a giant sign for the Sochi Games.
Women's parallel snowboarding
Japan's Tomoka Takeuchi (left) and Switzerland's Julie Zogg compete during the women's parallel slalom snowboarding competition, in this multiple exposure image.
Anton Shipulin
Russia's Anton Shipulin shoots during the men's biathlon 4x7.5 km biathlon relay.

Men in dark suits are talking into their sleeves and that can only mean one thing: the big man is in the house.

Then again, Vladimir Putin was never going to miss the chance to watch his Russian ice hockey team flex its supremacy against the USA in the preliminaries, before 12,500 besotted fans, at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

Putin expects his country to win the gold medal in Sochi. Their sixth placing at the Vancouver Olympics embarrassed the nation.

Sochi opening ceremony
The Russian flag is shown by lit up volunteers and spotlights during the opening ceremony.
Sochi opening ceremony
Russian president Vladimir Putin (right) shakes hands with IOC president Thomas Bach.
Sochi opening ceremony
Julia Volkova and Lena Katina of t.A.T.u perform during the opening ceremony.
Sochi opening ceremony
A view from inside Fisht Stadium as the Austrian team enters.
Sochi opening ceremony
The fifth snowflake fails to open into an Olympic ring.
Sochi opening ceremony
Liza Temnikova as Lyubov performs 'Voices of Russia' during the opening ceremony.
Sochi opening ceremony
The outside view of Fisht Stadium as dusk sets in at Sochi.
Sochi opening ceremony
Five snowflakes, symbolising the Olympic rings, begin to open.
Sochi opening ceremony
Fireworks explode outside Fisht Stadium as the opening ceremony starts.
Sochi opening ceremony
The colourful German team enters Fisht Stadium.
Sochi opening ceremony
A wide view inside Fisht Stadium, showing the failed fifth Olympic ring.
Sochi opening ceremony
The USA team, complete with their ugly Christmas sweater-looking outfits.
Sochi opening ceremony
Shane Dobbin leads the New Zealand team into Fisht Stadium.
Sochi opening ceremony
Members of the host Russian team arrive to huge cheers.
Sochi opening ceremony
The mascots of the Sochi Games, the hare, the bear and the leopard, during the opening ceremony.
Sochi opening ceremony
Inflatable balloons depicting elements of St Peter's Basilica float to the sky.
Sochi opening ceremony
A dancer performs during the opening ceremony, depicted the era of Peter the Great.
Sochi opening ceremony
Dancers perform during the Sochi opening ceremony.
Sochi opening ceremony
Scenes from inside Fisht Stadium during the opening ceremony.
Sochi opening ceremony
Scenes from inside Fisht Stadium during the opening ceremony.
Sochi opening ceremony
Volunteers bring the Olympic flag into Fisht Stadium.
Sochi opening ceremony
The Olympic flame is lit outside Fisht Stadium in Sochi.

"It was a big blow to us, a big failure, a big blow to everyone in Russia," says Alex Ovechkin, the face of Russian hockey and one of the best players in the world.

As Soviet legend Slava Fetisov said pre-Games of the expectation this time around: "Can you imagine what it would have been like had Canada not won in Vancouver? If Russia loses, will everyone be sent to Siberia? Probably not".

Probably.

Advertisement

Sochi opening ceremony
Shane Dobbin leads the New Zealand team into Fisht Stadium.
NZ snowboarders
Snowboarders Shelly Gotlieb, Stefi Luxton, Christy Prior and Rebecca Torr are interviewed by Sky Sport's Hayley Holt.
NZ snowboarders
Snowboarders Shelly Gotlieb, Stefi Luxton, Christy Prior and Rebecca Torr pose in the Olympic rings in the athletes village.
NZ Olympic team
Members of the NZ Olympic team arrive at the Athletes Village at Rosa Khutor.
NZ Olympic team
Members of the NZ Olympic team are welcomed to the Athletes Village at Rosa Khutor.
NZ Olympic team
Flagbearer Shane Dobbin leads the New Zealand team into the Olympic stadium.
Shane Dobbin
Speed skater Shane Dobbin practises at the Adler Arena Skating Centre.
Shane Dobbin
NZ flagbearer Shane Dobbin is presented with the Te Mahutonga cloak and a pounamu pendant by Chef de Mission Peter Wardell.
Shane Dobbin
NZ flagbearer Shane Dobbin at the Athletes Village.
Shelly Gotlieb
Shelly Gotlieb presents a Games volunteer with a New Zealand pin.
Shelly Gotlieb
Shelly Gotlieb competes in the women's snowboard slopestyle qualification round.
Stefi Luxton
Stefi Luxton competes in the women's snowboard slopestyle qualification round.
Christy Prior
Christy Prior competes in the women's snowboard slopestyle qualification round.
Rebecca Torr
Rebecca Torr competes in the women's snowboard slopestyle qualification round.
Bryon Wells
Byron Wells waves to the crowd as the New Zealand team enters the Olympic stadium.
Beau-James Wells
Beau-James Wells gets some air during the men's ski slopestyle practice.
Beau-James Wells
Beau-James Wells
Jossi Wells
With the mountains as a back-drop, Jossi Wells practises for the men's ski slopestyle.
Anna Willox-Silfverberg
Anna Willox-Silfverberg goes big during women's ski slopestyle training.
Ben Sandford
Skeleton racer Ben Sandford makes his way down a practice run at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
Katharine Eustace
Katharine Eustace completes a run during skeleton practice at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
Shelly Gotlieb
Snowboarder Shelly Gotlieb and Chef de Mission Peter Wardell tour the New Zealand section at the Athletes Village.
Shane Dobbin
New Zealand's Shane Dobbin competes against Russia's Ivan Skobrev during the men's 5000m.
Shane Dobbin
Shane Dobbin competes in the men's 5000m speed skating competition.
Ben Sandford
Kiwi skeleton racer Ben Sandford waits to take a practice run at the Sanki Sliding Centre.
Anna Willcox
Anna Willcox's New Zealand and Olympics inspired nails.
Anna Willcox
Anna Willcox has a message for back home after her first run in women's ski slopestyle qualifying.
Anna Willcox
Anna Willcox goes big
Shelly Gotlieb
Shelly Gotlieb is dwarfed by the mountains and sky during her semifinals run.
Rebecca Torr
Rebecca Torr competes in the women's snowboard slopestyle semifinals.
Wells boys
The three Wells brothers (from left) Beau-James, Jossi and Byron, with father Bruce (second right).
Bex Sinclair
New Zealand's Bex Sinclair competes in the women's snowboard halfpipe qualifying at Rosa Khutor.
Katharine Eustace
Skeleton racer Katharine Eustace gets in a practice run at the Sanki Sliding Center.
Jossi Wells
Jossi Wells competes in the men's ski slopestyle qualifying round.
Jossi Wells
New Zealand's Jossi Wells reacts after a run during the men's ski slopestyle final.
Beau-James Wells
Beau-James Wells competes during the men's ski slopestyle qualification round.
Katharine Eustace
Katharine Eustace hurtles down the skeleton ice during the first of two runs.
Katharine Eustace
Katharine Eustace waves to the crowd after one of her two skeleton heats runs.
Katharine Eustace
Katharine Eustace waves to the crowd after her third run during the women's skeleton at the Sanki Sliding Center.
Ben Sandford
Ben Sandford quipped to media after his first two skeleton runs: "I'm usually pretty good at skeleton".
Katharine Eustace
Katharine Eustace matched Jossi Wells' 11th-place finish as best New Zealand result in Sochi.
Ben Sandford
Ben Sandford qualified for the men's skeleton final, finishing 20th.
Ben Sandford
Skeleton racer Ben Sandford was the only Kiwi in action on Day 8 in Sochi.
Ben Sandford
Ben Sandford flies down the Sanki track to his best time of 57.67 seconds.
Jossi Wells
Jossi Wells in action during qualifying for the men's ski halfpipe final.
Beau-James Wells
Beau-James Wells in action during qualifying for the men's ski halfpipe final.
Lyndon Sheehan
Lyndon Sheehan gets upside-down during men's ski halfpipe qualifying.
Shane Dobbin
Shane Dobbin flies around Adler Arena during the men's 10,000m final.
Shane Dobbin
Shane Dobbin skates to seventh in the men's 10,000m final.
Adam Barwood
New Zealand's Adam Barwood brushes by a gate during one of his giant slalom runs.
Jossi Wells
Jossi Wells awaits his score after a round during the men's ski halfpipe final at Rosa Khutor.
Adam Barwood
Queenstown's Adam Barwood speeds down the giant slalom course, on his way to 44th out of 109 in the men's event.
Janina Kuzma
New Zealand's Janina Kuzma in action during the women's ski halfpipe qualification round.
Janina Kuzma
Kiwi Janina Kuzma anxiously awaits her score after a women's ski halfpipe qualifying run.
Janina Kuzma
Janina Kuzma flies high during the women's ski halfpipe final.
Adam Barwood
Queenstown's Adam Barwood completed his first slalom run in 54.21 seconds.
Adam Barwood
Adam Barwood, the last New Zealander in action in Sochi.
Adam Barwood
New Zealand's Adam Barwood managed 26th overall in the men's slalom.

This explains why Putin, sitting in the second tier of the stadium just above the press tribune, wore the grey expression of a widower as one of the greatest hockey matches of all time - according to the American journalist sitting next to me - unfolded before him but didn't fall his way.

After the players warmed up to Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, the score and momentum swung back and forth, finishing 2-all at the end of three periods before America won in a shootout universally described as "epic".

There was a touch of controversy, too, after Russia/Putin had a goal disallowed that would've won them the game.

Vladimir Putin
NOT HAPPY: Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on as his nations takes on the US in ice-hockey at the Sochi Games.

"It was electric," beamed US forward Ryan Kesler afterwards. "Both teams were playing hard and it was a fun game to play in, especially when you basically have a whole building rooting against you except for those couple hundred fans who got pretty loud when we got it going."

Most of the players from both countries play against or with each other in the National Hockey League.

Yet it is impossible, even now, to still view any sporting event between Russia and the US through anything other than the prism of a Cold War that supposedly ended decades ago.

The Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid ensures that rivalry never slips away when it comes to hockey.

Not one of the players who took to the ice on Saturday night was born when a group of American amateurs stunned the Soviets and the world in one of the greatest upsets in Olympic and sports history.

"Do you believe in miracles?" asked sportscaster Al Michaels in his famous call in the dying seconds. "YES!"

It's a result that still hurts the Russians.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi Olympics Organising Committee, reckons three films scared him as a child: Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and The Miracle on Ice.

But it's a result that still haunts the Americans.

They've been trying to chase down and replicate that special slice of history since. After being consigned to silver against Canada in Vancouver, they feel these games are their greatest chance of repeating the miracle.

Of course, The Miracle on Ice was only the pre-cursor to the mother of all Cold War sporting contests - when Rocky Balboa fought Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

Killing Apollo Creed really pissed off Rocky. And America.

So Rocky (played by a juiced up Sylvestor Stallone) flew to the USSR to fight Drago (played by a blond, flat-topped Dolph Lundgren) to avenge his fellow American's death.

As Drago prepared for the bout with cutting-edge high-tech equipment under the watchful eye of Brigitte Nielsen, Rocky chopped down trees and threw around logs, and gave the KGB men watching his every move something to ponder in snowy Krasnogourbinsk.

Drago promised "I must break you" but then, as Rocky started to rise from the canvas and get on top, declared he "is not human, he is like a piece of iron".

By the time the final round came around, the Russian crowd were chanting Rocky's name.

America won, the USSR lost, and now there are McDonald's everywhere you go in Sochi, and there are stars and stripes onesies in shopfront windows in downtown Rosa Khutor.

That was boxing. This is hockey.

There was every indication early into the game that remnants of the Cold War remain when Russian forward Yevgeni Medvedev threw a left hook at Ryan Callahan, and both sets of players came together and brawled as well as they can in chunky padding and helmets.

Ice hockey at the Olympics is supposedly sedate compared to its NHL equivalent. Drop the gloves in the NHL and get stuck in, you are fined. Drop them at the Olympics, you are suspended.

It's also played on a larger rink, meaning those signature, bowel-shaking crashes into the boards are less frequent, although a Kesler shoulder charge midway through this game would've earned him a 12-match suspension in the NRL, and that's with the early guilty plea.

It was at that precise moment when the brave souls representing the land of the free and home of the brave at the Bolshoy Dome started exalting their signature "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

The Russians might have cheered Rocky in the end, but they had no truck with cheering the Americans at the Olympics.

It was promptly drowned out with, "RUSS-SEE-A! RUSS-SEE-A! RUSS-SEE-A!"

Confirmation that Putin was in the house didn't come through until the second period, when he was sighted on the balcony overlooking halfway with the scores locked 1-all.

Right on cue, as if pre-determined, Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk scored the equaliser. His joy was tempered soon after when Fydodor Tyutin was disallowed a goal in the third period.

In the shootout, Putin rode the wave with the rest of us, as American forward TJ Oshie scored the winner at the eighth attempt. An epic? You didn't need to know ice hockey to know that's what it was.

"There are probably always nerves, but overall we focused on the game," Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said.

"I was in, what I would call, a working ecstasy. I wasn't shaking. As for Vladimir Vladimirovich, I only found out after the game (he was there)."

By then, Putin could not get out of there quick enough, led by a military general who had sat in front of him wearing a uniform adorned with medals.

The big man had left the house without the result he had wanted, while the Russian players walked through the mixed zone knowing that it might be hot as hell in Sochi but it is as cold as ice in Siberia.

Sydney Morning Herald