• Russian men's ice hockey team celebrate winning against Slovenia at the end of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

    Russian men's ice hockey team celebrate winning against Slovenia at the end of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

  • Slovenia's Ziga Jeglic (L) scores against Russia's goalie Semyon Varlamov during the second period of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014.REUTERS/Mark Blinch

    Slovenia's Ziga Jeglic (L) scores against Russia's goalie Semyon Varlamov during the second period of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014.REUTERS/Mark Blinch

  • Russia's Yevgeni Malkin (11) battles Slovenia's Klemen Pretnar (7) for the puck around the net as Slovenia's goalie Robert Kristan defends during the second period of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

    Russia's Yevgeni Malkin (11) battles Slovenia's Klemen Pretnar (7) for the puck around the net as Slovenia's goalie Robert Kristan defends during the second period of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

  • Russia's Alexander Radulov (L) looks for a rebound on Slovenia's goalie Robert Kristan (33) during the first period of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

    Russia's Alexander Radulov (L) looks for a rebound on Slovenia's goalie Robert Kristan (33) during the first period of their men's preliminary round ice hockey game at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Russia survive Slovenia scare in opener

By Steve Keating

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia got the Olympic men's ice hockey competition off to a rollicking start with a 5-2 win over feisty Slovenia on Thursday to keep the host country's gold medal dreams on track.

Going up against a Slovenian team making their Olympic debut, it was supposed to be a leisurely beginning to the tournament for the mighty Russians whose lineup features some of the world's top talent.

But Slovenia, with just one National Hockey League player on their roster, briefly threatened to pull off the biggest Olympic ice hockey upset since the 1980 Lake Placid 'Miracle on Ice' until Russia showed their class with a third period burst.

Clinging to a 3-2 lead going into the final period, Valery Nichushkin and Anton Belov scored to put Russia back in charge and settle nerves at the soldout Bolshoy Ice Dome.

Alex Ovechkin, a three-times NHL most valuable player, Evgeny Malkin, another NHL MVP, and Ilya Kovalchuk had the other Russian goals.

Ziga Jeglic scored twice for Slovenia.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

Highlights

Fireworks explode over the Fisht Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

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Highlights

Performers surround mechanized Olympic mascots under a large vessel suspended in the air during the closing ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Closing ceremony in Sochi