Olympic Hockey Live Blog: Canada Holds Off Slovakia 3-2

Olympic Hockey Live Blog: Canada Holds Off Slovakia 3-2Final, Canada 3-2: Absolutely furious action at the end of the game. Slovakia had what looked like a sure goal after a shot deflected off of Luongo, but it was not able to convert, missing the net from a very tight angle.

Third period, 2:44, Canada 3-2: Terrific action in front of the Canadian net. Slovakia with a great chance, but Luongo does just enough to stop it.

Third period, 3:28, Canada 3-2: Slovakia’s second goal was scored by Michael Handzus, with assists by Zednik and Satan.

Third period, 4:53, Canada 3-2: Slovakia scores! Slovakia scores! Sit down and buckle your seatbelt. Slovakia has scored two goals in 2:32 to pull within one.

Third period, 6:02, Canada 3-1: Before that goal, Canada was sleepwalking through that third period. Now it is back on the attack. It does not want to let this one slip away.

Third period, 8:21, Canada 3-1: Slovakia scores! Is there a chance? Could it pull off the unimaginable?

For Slovakia, Lubomir Visnovsky squeezes the puck in between Luongo and a post, scoring an unassisted, even-strength goal.

Third period, 9:51, Canada 3-0: It certainly feels like Canada should be ahead by more than three goals, but that does not matter much right now. All it is looking to do is finish these last 10 minutes healthy.

On Thursday night, Canada’s men’s team was in attendance as the women’s squad won the gold by defeating the U.S. 2-0. On Sunday, the men will try to make it a golden sweep in hockey.

Third period, 13:21, Canada 3-0: The crowd erupts into their first chant of, “We want USA.” Well, we want you too. It should be a terrific matchup this Sunday.

Third period, 14:39, Canada 3-0: Slovakia has gotten the better of play early in this third period, but it cannot seem to bury one in the back of the net.

Canada continues to move from defense to offense very quickly.

Third period, 15:52, Canada 3-0: If you think you hear the crowd saying, “Booo,” you are incorrect. They are actually saying, “Loooooou,” any time goalie Roberto Luongo touches the puck.

Third period, 18:12, Canada 3-0: Canadians lead in scoring chances 19-5 after close-in shot from Niedermayer.

End of second period, Canada 3-0: We are only 20 minutes away from a gold medal matchup between the U.S. and Canada. For the U.S., its best chance of winning a gold would be to play Slovakia, not Canada. But who wants that? It would be like the Red Sox winning the World Series and not playing the Yankees in the playoffs. It’s still good, but it wouldn’t be the same. Gold medal game is this Sunday at 3:15 p.m EST — get excited.

End of second period, Canada 3-0: That was definitely a better period for Slovakia. It tried to attack, instead of sitting on its heels. Unfortunately, it is just no match for the Canadians’ skill.

For the Canadians, that period has to be considered a letdown. They did expand their lead, but the Slovaks played them pretty evenly. On the bright side, Brenden Morrow is having a heck of a game.

Second period, 1:10, Canada 3-0: Zigmund Palffy with a terrific scoring chance for Slovakia on a breakaway, but Luongo stoned him.

Second period, 2:42, Canada 3-0: Canada scores on a rebound. Brenden Morrow blocked Halak’s vision, and Ryan Getzlaf backhanded a rebound for the Canadians’ third goal.

Second period, 4:52, Canada 2-0: The Slovaks look much, much better during this second period. They are trying to attack and doing a decent job of it. It’s better than the first period, where they just sat back the whole time. They are really competing on the ice with the Canadians.

Second period, 6:34, Canada 2-0: The Slovaks are hanging on. They had one good scoring chance on, but they could not get on the same page during a 3-on-2.

Canada continues to get very good scoring chances. Shea Weber and Brenden Morrow are playing particularly well.

Second period, 9:21, Canada 2-0: Slovakia is really working hard, but it is shorthanded in the talent department. The shots are listed at 15-7 in favor of Canada, but Slovakia has not had any great scoring chances.

Second period, 11:32, Canada 2-0: Slovakia kills the Chara penalty. It had one great chance on another deflection, but it went wide of the net.

Second period, 13:28, Canada 2-0: Zdeno Chara just buried Brenden Morrow on the near boards. A few seconds later, Morrow basically leaps right into Chara and draws a crazy foul on Chara. A terrible call! Now Canada is on the power play.

Second period, 14:46, Canada 2-0: Here we go. Slovakia is finally attacking and taking some chances. It does not have much of a chance to win this game, but to pull off the upset it will need to score some goals.

Second period, 16:31, Canada 2-0: Canada kills the penalty. Not much going on during that penalty attack for the Slovaks. Almost all of it was taken up by the first unit, which did not do much more than possess the puck.

Second period, 17:56, Canada 2-0: Slovakia on a penalty. Slovakia’s special teams has been brilliant during these Olympics. It is No.1 on the penalty kill (18-for-19) and No. 1 on the power play (7-for-19).

End of first period, Canada 2-0: Both of Canada’s goals came at full strength. The first goal came on a deflection by Patrick Marleau, with assists from Shea Weber and Scott Nedermayer. The second goal came on a deflection from Brenden Morrow, with helpers by Chris Pronger and Ryan Getzlaf.

End of first period, Canada 2-0: Slovakia’s approach was not a bad one. It tried to play a low-scoring, defensive game and hope to sneak in a goal or two. The problem is that it is not even attempting to attack. Any time it gets the puck, it has one or two men carry it into the attacking zone and just hold it. It is trying to attack the way a team would when it is on the penalty kill.

Trailing 2-0 after the first, Slovakia will almost certainly need to open up its game. The problem is that Canada is much more skilled on every line. The Canadians can attack constantly.

First period, 0:49, Canada 2-0: The Slovaks have shown no ability to create anything. They have been packing it in on defense, but they have just allowed to Canada to control the puck the entire first period. Eventually, Canada will (and did) find holes in their defense.

First period, 2:49, Canada 2-0: Canada is really taking control of this one. It leads in scoring chances 10-0. Slovakia is going to need a lot of luck to win this one.

During these Olympics, no team has overcome a 2-0 deficit to pull out a victory.

First period, 4:04, Canada 2-0: Another deflection, another goal for Team Canada.

Chris Pronger had a wrister from the point that was deflected by Brenden Morrow, who did well to gain great position in front of the net.

First period, 6:17, Canada 1-0: And like that, Canada is on the board. Shea Weber fired a shot from the wing and Patrick Marleau deflected the puck through the five hole.

The officials reviewed the play to make sure that Marleau’s stick was not above the crossbar when he deflected it, and it was not a high stick.

First period, 7:08, 0-0: We now know how Slovakia is going to play this one. It is packing it in defensively and not even attempting to do much on offense. The Canadians should adjust by being more aggressive in the attacking zone. So far, their defensmen are not even trying to get in on the attack.

First period, 10:23, 0-0: Early on, Canada looks like an All-Star team with a bunch of individuals, while Slovakia looks like more of a team.

Slovakia has not had a good scoring opportunity yet, but that probably does not worry them.

First period, 13:21, 0-0: Canada has had several scoring chances, but is only outshooting Slovakia 4-2. So far, this game is going exactly how Slovakia would like. It is not trying to win any style points here.

First period, 18:41, 0-0: Canada does not look very sharp after two lines, but this team can strike quickly.

9:26 p.m.: We are just a few minutes away from the drop of the puck between Canada and Slovakia. It will be interesting to see how Slovakia plays this one. There is no way it can go toe-to-toe with the Canadians, but it also cannot sit back and expect to win 1-0. It will need to be smart, timely, and calculated with its attack.

But what this game really comes down to is the play of Slovak netminder Jaroslav Halak. He will need to be brilliant for Slovakia to pull off what would be an incredible upset.

9:20 p.m.: For Bruins fans, there are some familiar faces for each side. The Canadian roster features Patrice Bergeron and former Bruin Joe Thornton, while the Slovaks have Zdeno Chara, Miroslav Satan, and former B Jozef Stumpel.

9:11 p.m.: Earlier today, the United States trounced Finland 6-1. In the process, it sent out a resounding message to Canada: “We’re here to play!” Canada, it’s your move.

12:27 p.m.: The Canadian men’s hockey team entered these Olympic Games as the prohibitive favorite. How could a team led by Sydney Crosy, Jarome Iginla and Scott Niedermayer, essentially playing home games, lose?

Perhaps the players felt the same way, because Team Canada looked quite vulnerable in group play, needing a shootout to beat the Swiss, before losing to the Americans. At that point, questions began to arise about this team. Did it have the focus required to win gold? Is Martin Brodeur too old?

Last week, Team Canada was a sleeping giant. The Swiss kicked it, then the U.S. shot at it. Now, it’s awake and very much alive. Since losing to the Americans, Team Canada has looked like the juggernaut everyone expected. They blasted Germany 8-2 before routing the highly touted Russians 7-3.

Slovakia is no joke, having already defeated Russia during these Olympics. The Slovaks have also won three medals at hockey’s world championships over the last decade. Slovakia’s roster consists of 13 current NHL players, including Marian Gaborik and Marian Hossa.

With the help of Zdeno Chara, Slovakia upset defending Olympic champions Sweden 4-3 to advance to the semifinals. Amazingly, the Slovaks recorded only 14 shots against the Swedes, netting four of them. The Canadians will not be so generous.

Team Canada looks good — real good. It will take a special game for Slovakia to pull off the upset.

The puck drops Friday night at 9:30 p.m. in the East. Check out a game preview here.

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