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 arrived at the 2014 Sochi Olympics loaded with offensive superstars.
Canada had 11 of the top 25 scorers in the NHL among its 14 forwards. The rest of the teams in the tournament had a total of nine.
It stood to reason that Canada would be able to steamroll the opposition with its offense.
The Canadians have done that, except they've turned the theory around; they've used offense as their primary source of defense.
Entering the gold-medal game against Sweden on Sunday (7 a.m. ET; NBC, CBC), Canada has scored 14 goals in five games and has allowed three, largely because the puck has spent an inordinate amount of time in the offensive zone without necessarily finding its way into the back of the opposing net.
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Read the three keys for Canada, Sweden in Olympic final.
Finland captain Teemu Selanne had the floor in the dressing room before the 2014 Sochi Olympics hockey tournament bronze-medal game Saturday. As he does each time he speaks, he demanded the attention of his teammates.
This was it for the 43-year-old Selanne, his last game for Finland's national team, nearly 26 years after he first put on the Suomi sweater. Finland lost its chance to win gold Friday in a one-goal defeat to Sweden. But the game Saturday was for a medal, and it was against the United States. Selanne wanted to make sure everyone in the dressing room knew how much it mattered to him, how much it should matter to them.
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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
CANADA vs. UNITED STATES
When: Friday, Noon ET (NBCSN, CBC)
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome
Unlike the 2010 Vancouver Olympics or the games in Salt Lake City eight years earlier, no gold medal will be awarded to the winner Friday between the United States and Canada. The victor will still have one more hill to climb, advancing to the gold-medal game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Sunday. The losing country will be faced with the scenario of leaving Russia with bronze at best, and perhaps nothing at all.
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United States (Channel Finder)
12-2:30 p.m. ET -- Men's Semifinal: Canada vs. United States, NBCSN, NBC LiveExtra Online
12-2:30 p.m. ET -- Men's Semifinal: Canada vs. United States, CBC, TVA (French), Watch Online-EN, Watch Online-FR
Team Canada advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 win over Latvia on Wednesday afternoon, but paid a price, as John Tavares left the game with a lower-body injury.
Tavares exited in the second period after taking a hit from Latvian defenseman Arturs Kulda and did not return. NHL.com reported that the Islanders captain would not return to play in the medal rounds.
The heavily-favored Canadians were given a scare by the underdog Latvians, as the teams were tied 1-1 for 37:25, until Shea Weber broke through with a power-play goal with 6:54 to play. Weber’s winner – a trademark blast from the point – came on Canada’s 54th shot. Overall, Canada outshot Latvia 57-16, marking an impressive performance by goalie Kristers Gudlevskis, who made 55 saves in the loss.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp and Latvia’s Lauris Darzins rounded out the scoring
With the win, Canada advanced to Friday’s semifinals and will play the United States in a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game. Puck drop is at noon eastern time [NBCSN, CBC].
While their neighbors to the north were fighting to stay alive in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the United States men's hockey players once again methodically went about their business without any drama or suspense at Shayba Arena.
Ryan Suter had three assists, Ryan Kesler had two and David Backes had a monster game as the United States reached the semifinals of the tournament with a 5-2 victory against Czech Republic on Wednesday.
The U.S. will face Canada in the semifinals Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome (Noon ET, NBCSN, CBC). The Americans will be playing for a second straight trip to the gold-medal game. They got there in 2010 but lost in overtime to Canada.
The Olympic men's hockey tournament is shifting into the playoff phase. Follow John Tavares, Canada and the United States as the action heats up and they battle the world's best for the gold medal. Check newyorkislanders.com for the playoff schedule and results.
Qualification Round Schedule:
|AUS 0, SLO 4|
|RUS 4, NOR 0|
|SUI 1, LAT 3|
|SVK 3, CZE 5|
|SLOVENIA||SLO 0, SWE 5|
|RUS 1, FIN 3|
|CZE 2, USA 5|
|LAT 1, CAN 2|
|FIN 1, SWE 2|
|CAN 1, USA 0|
Bronze Medal Game:
|FIN 5, USA 0|
Gold Medal Game:
|CAN 3, SWE 0|
Check back for the latest schedule updates.
|Michael Grabner scored five goals in four games for Team Austria. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images)|
"We didn't have a full game," Grabner said. "We had times where we played pretty good and time where they just controlled the game. Obviously, when you score no goals, it is pretty tough to win a game."
Los Angeles Kings all-star Anze Kopitar scored the eventual winner 5:29 into the first period, as the Austrian team never found their offensive groove. J Urbas, S Kovacevic and J Mursak also scored for Slovenia, who advance to the quarterfinals in their first year qualifying for the Olympic men’s hockey tournament. Slovenia will play top-seeded Team Sweden tomorrow at 3 a.m. ET.
The loss ends the first, but very successful, Olympic appearance for Grabner, who scored five goals – including a hat trick against Team Finland – in four games. The Islanders winger also picked up two goals against Team Norway.
Vanek, who captained the Austrian team, finished the tournament with one assist in four games.
Times and locations for the play-in games to advance to the 2014 Sochi Olympics men's hockey tournament quarterfinals have been announced.
All four games will be played Tuesday. Each play-in winner will face off against one of the top-four seeds – Sweden, the United States, Canada and Finland – in the quarterfinal round Wednesday.
Russia, the host country and No. 5 seed, will play No. 12 Norway at 7:30 a.m. ET at Bolshoy Ice Dome. The winner will advance to play No. 4 Finland at 7:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
No. 6 Switzerland will play No. 11 Latvia at noon ET at Bolshoy Ice Dome. The winner will move on to face No. 3 Canada at noon ET on Wednesday.
No. 7 Czech Republic will play No. 10 Slovakia at noon ET at Shayba Arena, with the winner advancing to play No. 2 United States on Wednesday (noon ET, NBCSN).
No. 8 Slovenia will play No. 9 Austria at 3 a.m. ET at Bolshoy Ice Dome. The winner will play top-seeded Sweden at 3 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
Sweden, the United States, Canada and Finland received byes to the quarterfinal round as the top-four teams in preliminary-round action. The Swedes earned the top seed as the only team with three regulation wins. The Americans and Canadians each had two regulation wins and an extra-time win, but the U.S. earned the No. 2 seed by virtue of its plus-11 goal differential compared to Canada's plus-9.
Finland, with seven points from two regulation wins and an extra-time loss, had the most points of any non-group winner.
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