Pavel Bure may have put together the finest Olympic performance of all-time as a member of the Vancouver Canucks in 1998. I’m not talking about him scoring 51 goals that season, although that was impressive. I am talking about Pavel Bure’s performance for Team Russia at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano.
Pavel Bure didn’t have many chances to play for Russia in best-on-best tournaments during his career. He was too young to play in the 1991 Canada Cup and injured for the 1996 World Cup. He was able to play in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, but that happened late in his career. It was in 1998 that Bure got his chance to play in his prime for his country at the highest level.
The 1998 Olympics were the first Olympics in which the NHL stopped its season to allow its players to participate. Pavel Bure was named captain of Team Russia and his team was one of the favourites to win gold. After finishing in first place during the round robin, they beat Belarus easily in the quarterfinals to set-up a semifinal matchup against Finland for the right to play in the gold medal game.
Bure had the game of his life. With the world watching, Bure scored a natural hat trick to give Russia a 3-0 lead. Finland stormed back, scoring three goals in the second period to level the game. Bure scored twice more in the third period as Russia won 7-4 and earned a birth into the gold medal game.
Watch as Bure scores once on the power play, three times on breakaways (!) and once into an empty net:
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