Vancouver’s Memorable Olympic Hockey Sets Stage For Competitive Sochi Games

Vancouver Olympics Ice HockeyThe 2010 Winter Olympics provided some of the most amazing hockey of this generation, culminating with an all-time classic in the gold medal game, in which Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal gave Canada a thrilling win over the United States on home ice in Vancouver.

The men’s hockey action at the 2014 Sochi Games, which begins Wednesday, should be just as exciting. Seven teams are capable of reaching the medal stand, and four of them have a legitimate chance to win gold.

Before a new chapter of Olympic hockey is written in Russia, check out a recap of the 2010 Vancouver Games below.

Preliminary Round

Group A GP W OTW OTL L PTS
United States 3 3 0 0 0 9
Canada 3 1 1 0 1 5
Switzerland 3 0 1 1 1 3
Norway 3 0 0 1 2 1
Group B GP W OTW OTL L PTS
Russia 3 2 0 1 0 7
Czech Republic 3 2 0 0 1 6
Slovakia 3 1 1 0 1 5
Latvia 3 0 0 0 3 0
Group C GP W OTW OTL L PTS
Sweden 3 3 0 0 0 9
Finland 3 2 0 0 1 6
Belarus 3 1 0 0 2 3
Germany 3 0 0 0 3 0

The preliminary round was highlighted by the United States’ 5-3 victory over Canada in the final game of Group A. Despite losing the lead twice, the Americans kept attacking and scored a late empty-net goal to clinch a confidence-boosting victory heading into the playoff rounds.

Team USA tied Canada for the most goals scored in the preliminary round with 14 and had the best goal differential of all 12 teams at plus-9.

Russia, Sweden and the United States each earned a spot in the quarterfinal (bypassing the qualification playoffs) as group winners.

Qualification Playoffs

Results

Switzerland 3, Belarus 2 (SO)

Czech Republic 3, Latvia 2 (OT)

Canada 8, Germany 2

Slovakia 4, Norway 3

Canada’s eight-goal performance over Germany was the most exciting game of the qualification playoff. The Czech Republic needed overtime to avoid an upset to Latvia. Boston Bruins center David Krejci scored in the extra period to give his team a matchup with Finland in the quarterfinal.

Quarterfinals

Results

United States 2, Switzerland 0

Canada 7, Russia 3

Finland 2, Czech Republic 0

Slovakia 4, Sweden 3

No one expected the Canadians to dominate a talented Russian team by four goals. Canada took a 4-1 lead into the first intermission and added three goals to its tally in the second period, including two from Corey Perry. Dan Boyle led Canada with three points (goal, two assists), and Jonathan Toews continued his strong tournament with two assists. Canada did a great job shutting down Russia’s top forwards. Alex Ovechkin (zero points), Evgeni Malkin (one assist) and Pavel Datsyuk (zero points) all struggled.

The final quarterfinal matchup saw the defending gold medalists eliminated early. Sweden fell behind 2-0 early in the first period and wasn’t able to solve Czech goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who gave one of his best international performances. Sweden’s loss marked the sixth straight Olympics with no repeat gold medal winner.

Semifinals

Results

United States 6, Finland 1

Canada 3, Slovakia 2

Led by a strong power play and Patrick Kane’s two goals, the United States advanced to its first gold medal game since 2002 with a dominating victory over Finland. Five different players scored for Team USA, and Ryan Miller strengthened his case for tournament MVP with another stellar performance in net. Tim Thomas made his first appearance of the tournament and gave up Finland’s only goal in just over 10 minutes of play in the third period.

In the other semifinal, Canada appeared to be comfortably heading into the gold medal game before allowing two goals late in the third period to set up a thrilling last five minutes of regulation. Starting goaltender Roberto Luongo stood tall in net as the Canadians held on to clinch their second Olympic final berth since 2000.

Bronze Medal Game

Finland 5, Slovakia 3

Finland won its second straight medal with an impressive offensive performance against Slovakia. The Finnish squad entered the final period down 3-1 but scored four unanswered goals to earn the bronze. Valtteri Filppula’s empty-net goal with 11 seconds remaining in regulation secured Finland’s victory.

Final

Canada 3, United States 2 (OT)

This gold medal matchup between the United States and Canada will forever be remembered as one of the greatest games ever played.

Toews opened the scoring 12 minutes into the first period on a rebound attempt. Corey Perry made it 2-0 in the second period with a rebound shot after Anaheim Ducks teammate Ryan Getzlaf fired a puck on net. Down by two goals for the first time in the tournament, the United States stormed back with a determined effort that included physical play, crisper passing and excellent goaltending from Miller. At 12:44 of the second period, Kane fired a shot on net that was tipped by Ryan Kesler in front of Luongo, and the puck barely trickled into the net. The goal trimmed the Canadians’ lead to 2-1 and gave the Americans much-needed confidence and momentum.

After the U.S. failed to find the equalizer for much of the third period, Miller was pulled for an extra attacker in the final two minutes. With 30 seconds left in regulation, Kane threw a shot on net from the left faceoff circle, and Zach Parise pounced on the loose puck in the crease to score the tying goal. Just before Parise’s goal, Luongo got his glove on a shot from the point but wasn’t able to secure it, which kept the play going for the Americans.

The epic end to the third period set the stage for a memorable golden goal by Crosby in overtime. With 12:20 remaining, Crosby entered the attacking zone with speed and fired a shot toward Miller. The puck went into the corner to Miller’s right, where Crosby got it back and worked a beautiful give-and-go with Jarome Iginla that set up the winner. The Penguins captain could be heard yelling “Iggy!” as he waited for the return pass from his linemate, and when he got it, Crosby beat Miller five hole and started a gigantic celebration at Rogers Arena.

According to COMBC, the 2010 Olympic final was the “most-watched television broadcast in Canadian history.”

Vancouver Games Individual Awards

Tournament MVP: Ryan Miller, G, United States

Best Defenseman: Brian Rafalski, United States

Best Forward: Jonathan Toews, C, Canada

All-Star Team: Ryan Miller (G, USA), Brian Rafalski (D, USA), Shea Weber (D, CAN), Zach Parise (LW, USA), Jonathan Toews (C, CAN), Pavol Demitra (RW, SVK)

Check out the entire USA-Canada thriller in the video below.

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