Victory. Vindication. Another gold medal.
Canada got it all Sunday at Bolshoy Ice Dome in a 3-0 victory against Sweden in the gold-medal game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
For all the scrutinizing of the roster and the analyzing and debating of the decisions made by coach Mike Babcock since the team arrived in Russia two weeks ago, Canada won its second straight gold medal and third in the past four Olympics without ever trailing in the tournament and giving up only three goals.
Babcock kept calling the team a work in progress, just like he did in 2010. He was right, again.
Canada is the first repeat gold-medal winner since the Soviet Union/Unified Team won three in a row from 1984-92. The Canadians have a record nine Olympic gold medals dating to 1920, and that includes a stretch of 50 years (1952-2002) without one.
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Canada won the rematch that was four years in the making. Now it can try to win another gold medal.
Jamie Benn's goal early in the second period Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome was all the Canadians needed to beat the United States 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and a rematch of the 2010 gold-medal game, also won by Canada by one goal.
Canada will play Sweden in the gold-medal game Sunday (7 a.m. ET, NBC, CBC). The Canadians have won two of the past three Olympic gold medals after going 50 years without one (1952-2002). The U.S. will play Finland for the bronze medal Saturday (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
Carey Price had the shutout with 31 saves in a game that featured an electric pace, mostly controlled by the Canadians.
Special teams also played a big role in Canada's win Friday as its penalty kill was 3-for-3. The Canadians were 0-for-2 on the power play but it didn't matter as the Americans didn't generate much on their power play as the Canadians held them on the outside most of the time.
Benn scored his goal 1:41 into the second period off a sweet diagonal pas from Jay Bouwmeester. The Canadians had several chances on United States goalie Jonathan Quick after the goal but they couldn't extend the lead despite controlling the pace for the bulk of the game.
Quick made 36 saves, including nine in the third period. His best was a pad save on Chris Kunitz with just under six minutes remaining in the third period. It at least gave the Americans a chance to tie the game, something they could not do.
Canada had a 28-22 edge in shots on goal after 40 minutes; it was 16-11 after the first period.
Benn and Bouwmeester worked some magic to give Canada the lead.
The play started when Benn made a pretty backhanded pass to Bouwmeester from the right circle to the left point. Benn immediately dashed to the net and Bouwmeester delivered a picture-perfect diagonal pass from his spot at the left point toward the slot. The pass was right on Benn's stick and he redirected the puck into the net, past Quick's glove, for the only goal Canada would need.
The Canadians have played three one-goal games in the tournament and their forwards have scored seven goals in five games, but it has been just enough to get them to the precipice of another gold medal.Continue Reading
A dangling and dazzling Phil Kessel helped the United States clinch an automatic bye into the quarterfinals 24 hours after the Americans grabbed the attention of the sports world in dramatic fashion.
Kessel produced the first hat trick by an American player in the Olympics since John LeClair in 2002 to lift the U.S. to a 5-1 victory against Slovenia at Shayba Arena, the venue across the street from Bolshoy Ice Dome, where on SaturdayT.J. Oshie put his quick hands on display to lift the U.S. to a 3-2 shootout win against Russia.
The U.S. finished with eight of a possible nine points to win Group A at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. It now waits to find out which nation it will face in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.