SOCHI, February 17 (R-Sport) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday chimed in on the national debate surrounding his country's disallowed goal against the United States in the Sochi Olympic hockey tournament, saying it was a mistake by the referee.
With five minutes to go before the final buzzer Sunday at the Bolshoy Ice Dome and the score at 2-2, Russian defenseman Fedor Tyutin thumped a slapshot from near the boards that flew into the net.
However, the officials ruled it out because the goal had been moved off its moorings by around one centimeter in a previous attack.
The U.S. went on to win the preliminary round game 3-2 in a shootout, sparking claims of a conspiracy among many Russian fans, who pointed out that one of the two referees was American.
"Even referees sometimes makes mistakes, here I wouldn't tar anybody with any brush, but I thought that we would win by a big margin," Putin said.
"You and I shouldn't forget that sport isn't only about skill but also about the athletes' courage, and even a good slice of luck."
The defeat left Russia having to negotiate a playoff against Norway to get into the quarterfinals.
The disallowed goal featured heavily on Sunday's evening news on the state network Rossiya, where anchorman Dmitry Kiselyov suggested that it was included in the multimillion dollar deal that saw US network NBC lock down broadcasting rights. The Americans didn't purchase a defeat, he claimed.
Rossiya is part of the state-owned VGTRK media enterprise.
As to the episode, the players themselves were undecided.
“I don't know what happened there but it was definitely a goal,” forward Alex Ovechkin said after the game. “The goalie touched the net so that the net moved. The referee had to see it. He should have given him two [penalty] minutes.”
Fellow star Ilya Kovalchuk, however, was more conciliatory. “It is common sense. There are rules and everyone has to follow them,” he said of the goal being chalked off. “It wasn't something very bad and I hope we will get a chance to play against [the U.S.] again."
As for the would-be goalscorer, Tyutin, he said he had more important matters to concentrate on.
“The referees said the goal had been moved,” he said. “There was no time to worry about it because there were still five minutes to play.”