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USA, Russia tie in thriller

Feb. 17, 2002 at 2:17 AM   |   Comments

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Brett Hull, having fanned on a shot from close range seconds earlier, got another chance Saturday night and rocketed a shot past Nikolai Khabibulin with 4:30 remaining to earn the United States a 2-2 tie with Russia in what was easily the best game of the Olympic round-robin hockey tournament.

Russia overcame a 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead when Sergei Fedorov scored on the power play early in the third period.

The tying goal came when Hull took a pass from Phil Housley and tried to one-time it past the Russian goaltender. He got only a small piece of the puck, which bounced off a Russian defender and came right back to him.

Hull did not miss with his second chance.

"Phil made a good play coming down and getting into the play," Hull said. "The fact that we had to come back made this a good point."

In the only other game in the men's tournament Saturday, Olli Jokinen scored two of his team's first three goals and ignited Finland to an 8-1 crushing of Belarus in the Olympic hockey tournament.

Finland bounced back from a 6-0 whipping at the hands of the United States less than 24 hours earlier.

Jokinen centered the third line for Finland as the lines that played against the Americans were broken up.

"Against the United States last night, we were flat and came out just a bit too nervous," said Finland captain Teemu Selanne. "We respected our opponent too much. Today we changed the lines to give more balance with Kapanen on the second line and we got into the flow right away with the third line scoring the first goal.

"We were better today and can keep on getting better. I like it without the red line. It opens up the attack. We play Russia next on Monday and we have to be ready for them."

Belarus defenseman Rusian Salei said it was just a matter of the best team winning.

"They have more skill than us and they beat us over every inch of the ice," he said. "We were not as prepared as we were against Russia (in a game Belarus lost, 6-4). We are professionals and we should have been. The game was not fun and just getting here isn't enough."

All eight teams remaining in the tournament will make the quarterfinals with the round-robin portion of the event simply determining the matchups in the knockout round.

The United States has one round-robin game left, that coming against Belarus. Russia must play Finland.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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