During the current worldwide hiatus from sports, Russian media outlet Sport Express has been running a series of articles on the “Great moments and matches of Russian hockey”. The series looks back at the most prolific games, goals and events that have gone down in the history of the Russian national team. In today’s edition, Sport Express recalls the time Alex Ovechkin pulverized Jaromir Jagr in the 2010 Olympics.
Russia led 2-1 in the final period of the Russia-Czech Republic game when Jagr, shut down for most of the game, tried to take matters into his own hands. He stickhandled through center ice, looking to his left, intent on rushing into the Russian zone.
With 18:17 left in the game, Ovechkin delivered the earth-shattering hit seen ’round the world. (The impact of the blow broke Jagr’s visor). The hit and subsequent turnover would lead directly to a Russian goal.
The puck slid to Alexander Semin, who broke the other way on a two-on-one. Jagr picked himself up but trailed far behind as Semin passed cross-ice to Evgeni Malkin, who buried a shot for his second goal of the game and a 3-1 Russian lead.
Ovechkin would say after the game, it was probably the best hit of his life.
“I remember that it was a very equal match. Semin fell at the side, and Jagr grabbed the puck and drove to the left. I knew that he would not make the transfer, but would try to beat me. And as soon as I saw that he was taking to the left, I was ready to meet him. He went left, then right, and I just destroyed him. It was probably the best hit in my life, “Ovechkin recalled.”
Jagr was asked about the hit following the game.
“Guys, before you ask me the question, I know I make a mistake,” Jagr said. “It was a big mistake. The hit, I don’t really care, but the mistake, the turnover, they … scored a goal. That hurt me the most. I don’t really care how I feel. If something hurt, it always heals but mistake, it’s not that easy to [recover].”
Jagr’s teammates knew it was a turning point.
“Six goals, and that’s the first thing you guys ask,” Czech captain Patrik Elias said after the game. “… He’s known for that, he likes to have a physical moment to announce himself.” Ovechkin needs no announcements, no introductions, but he certainly left an impression on the Olympics.
Ovechkin’s Russian teammates also felt it was a turning point in the game.
“Great moment,” Evgeny Malkin said. “Hollywood game. Hollywood moment. And we score.”
“I mean, it’s a lift,” Russian defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. ” If you look at it, it was a great hit, clean hit right at the time when Jags tried to pick up the pace a bit. And we score right away, so momentum was great. We have a lot of guys who can score the goals … It’s not about who is scoring the goals. It’s about doing the right things, and Alex is obviously doing the right things for us.”
“I think overall we’re playing a really physical game,” said Ilya Kovalchuk. “It shows a lot of emotions. It’s a really important game for both teams. It’s for first place, but definitely that hit turned the game around a little bit. We all know [Ovechkin] can hit. It’s part of the game and he finished his check.”
Ovechkn remembered the hit in an interview with Graham Bensinger in 2015, simply stating “I killed him”.
“It is just a moment. If I have a chance to hit somebody, it does not matter who it is,” said Ovechkin.
By Jon Sorensen
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