How big was the men's hockey semifinal between the United States and Canada on Friday night? Big enough to get Russia's superstar to shrug off his team's monumental Olympic disappointment and come to the arena to watch the game.

Alex Ovechkin was in the house at Bolshoy Ice Dome, two days after Russia was eliminated from the tournament by Finland. The star-studded Russians' poor showing on their home turf was a national embarrassment for a country that treats hockey as a national treasure.

But rather than hurry back to the United States, perhaps avoid some of the media scrutiny that has come in the wake of the woeful performance and get ready to rejoin the Washington Capitals for the remainder of the NHL season, Ovechkin was sitting at the top of the lower deck in Bolshoy, just to the right of a Canadian flag.

Watching from the stands as two high profile teams played for a berth in the gold medal game on his home soil had to sting, but it's nothing compared to the scare he got earlier in the week when his father had unexpected heart surgery. Mikhail Ovechkin is in stable condition and Alex tweeted out thanks to his fans for the well wishes shortly before the game.

"Thanks to all for support," Ovechkin tweeted. "My dad going to be good and he see you all again!!!"

— By Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski


Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu