There was a breakaway by Patrick Kane in overtime and a virtuoso performance by Russian captain Pavel Datsyuk, who scored both Russian goals, this after he looked as if he was a bit hobbled in the Russians' first game of the tournament against Slovenia.
"I'm OK. We, not me," Datsyuk said continuing to downplay concerns over his health and try to focus the attention on his team's play rather than his individual play.
The result leaves the Americans with five points after two games, one more point than the Russians.
Both teams close out the preliminary part of the Olympic schedule Sunday. The Russians take on the disappointing Slovaks (0-2), while the U.S. will close out against the surprising Slovenians (1-1), who upset Slovakia 3-1 earlier Saturday.
The Americans' shootout victory opens the door to win their group and get a bye to the quarterfinal. The rest won't be known until Sunday night, when the four teams that get a bye are identified (three group winners plus the team with the next-best point total) and the matchups for the qualification games are established.
But what we do know is that, whatever flaws these two teams might have, they weren't on display in this lightning-fast, bruising contest many were calling an instant classic.
If the idea was that the Americans, 7-1 winners over Slovakia on Thursday, were going to disrupt the exploitable Russian defense, that didn't happen. The Russians moved the puck quickly and smartly to their wildly skilled forwards most of the day.
If the idea was the young American blueliners would start to show some cracks against the high-end Russian offense, well, that didn't happen, either.
If there was some idea that the Americans, who ran roughshod over the Slovaks with a bullying style, could impose their will physically on the Russians, that didn't happen as the two teams traded body blows all day.
"Great hockey game," said Russian star Alexander Ovechkin, who was likewise a physical force throughout the day. "Both team show character. Unfortunately, somebody have to lose; somebody have to win. We have a chance to win, but they do a great job on the penalty shots. It is what it is."
At the start of the selection process for the U.S. team, the coaching staff reinforced that, historically, teams that win the special-teams battle in these kinds of tournaments end up winning the vast majority of their games. It was so Saturday as the Americans scored two power-play goals, the first by Cam Fowler and the second by Joe Pavelski after a fabulous Kane pass to take a 2-1 lead near the midpoint of the third period. But the Americans tempted fate once too often, taking six minor penalties in the game and allowing a second Datsyuk goal through traffic with the man advantage to tie the score.
Next week, that kind of lack of discipline could prove devastating.
On this day, though, it was just part of what was a feast for the hockey senses.
"I'm going to be in bed tonight thinking about it, and I'll be thinking about it for the rest of my career," Fowler said.