NBC Olympics staff will select three stars to spotlight special performers from each day’s competition.
Kirill Kaprizov, Olympic Athletes from Russia: After scoring in his Olympic debut against Slovakia, the 20-year-old forward went two better against Slovenia, exploding for three goals in OAR’s 8-2 demolition job. Kaprizov buried a nice cross-ice feed for his first score, extending his team’s lead to 5-0 in the second period. He added his second on a wraparound before slamming a slap shot past Luka Gracnar to seal his hat trick in the third.
Ryan Donato, Team USA: The 21-year-old forward scored two goals and helped the U.S. capture its first victory of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. No. 16 fired a wrist shot from the slot with precision accuracy in the first period against Slovakia, then tallied the eventual game winner early in the third period. After making a pretty spin move to get himself into scoring position, Donato buried a backhand from point-blank range to give the Americans a chance to win Group B in its next match against OAR.
Ilya Kovalchuk, OAR: The first overall pick in the 2001 Draft, Kovalchuk is one of the main attractions on the men’s side of the tournament. He can return to the NHL without any restrictions next season, so most fans and scouts are keeping a close eye on No. 71. He was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce on his first goal, but weaved through the Slovenian defense and set up a one-timer in the 8-2 victory. He hammer a slap shot of his own later in the contest. Known as a prolific scorer, Kovalchuk has the ability to carry OAR’s offensive attack in any given game.
Eeli Tolvanen, Finland: If you weren’t familiar with Tolvanen before these Winter Games, you will be by the end. The 18-year-old continued to dominate for Finland, picking up two more goals in his second-ever Olympic game. No. 20 teed off on a one-timing pass in the first period, then made the Norwegian goaltender look silly with a pretty breakaway finish. The Nashville Predators have to be pleased with what their 2017 first-round pick is showing in the early going.