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“I would like to say thank you to our fans,” Datsyuk said. “They helped us.”

Russia has 16 players from the NHL and two stars, Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov, who left the league to go back home to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Slovenia coach Matjaz Kopitar, the father of Anze Kopitar, said his team respected the Russians too much.

“That’s the reason we started slow and shaky — they were somehow afraid,” he said.

Soon after the start, Ovechkin charged down the left side of the ice and his wrist shot from the left circle was so sharp that Slovenia’s goaltender, Robert Kristan, had no chance to stop it with his glove.

The Washington Capitals forward showed he could pass, too, lightly touching the puck near center ice to give Malkin an opportunity to score. The Pittsburgh Penguins star took full advantage, deking to his right in front of the net and shooting left to beat Kristan.

Instead of rolling to a rout, the Russians had to make some key stops and clutch shots to win.

Kristan, who faced 18 shots in the first period and 35 in the game, gave his team a chance to stay competitive.

A little more than a year ago, no one even thought the Slovenians would even be playing in the best-on-best tournament. Slovenia earned a spot by knocking off Belarus, Ukraine and Denmark to qualify.

“We’re definitely not playing the flashiest hockey, but it got us here, so it’s got to be something right,” Anze Kopitar said.