Every Washington Capital involved in the Olympics saw their dreams of winning a medal dashed yesterday on what is being dubbed Wild Wednesday. They will return to DC to rejoin the Caps as they push to finish the season strong and pursue the next best thing, the Stanley Cup.
Nick Backstrom and Team Sweden could not overcome a third period Slovakia power play and lost 4-3. Backstrom played well, getting on the scoresheet with an assist and nearly scoring himself to tie the game. In the end it would be Slovakia, who also went on to beat Russia in the preliminaries, that will continue on. Former Capital, now Blue Jacket, Milan Jurcina will continue to represent his home country of Slovakia.
Tomas Fleischmann did not advance past Wednesday as the Czech Republic fell to Finland. It was a goaltending duel between Tomas Vokoun and Mikka Kiprusoff that Vokoun just came up on the short end of the game. Flash would score no points in the shutout, but had some great chances in front of the net. His teammate, Jaromir Jagr, looked like he was going to break out, but in the end he just didn't have it in his gas tank. Jagr could have played his last game in North America despite rumors of a return to the NHL.
Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Semyon Varlamov would be the most disappointed athletes of the winter games to be making a return home early. Team Russia, a gold medal favorite, were overwhelmed early in their marquee matchup against Canada. The Canadians scored 4 goals in the first period and the Russians just could not overcome the onslaught of physical and aggressive play.
"I think we was not ready for first five minutes of game and when we wake up it was too late," Ovechkin told reporters following the game. "It was 3-0 and it's pretty hard to come back, especially that game."
All of the Capitals players return either today or tomorrow to resume practices with their teammates in Washington DC. And practice they will need. The Caps are looking at snapping a three game losing skid that they carried over into the Olympic break. Now that the Olympians are returning healthy (for the most part, Ovechkin stopped a puck with his hand. He claimed it pinched a nerve) and hopefully ready to return to their day jobs.