That was more like it, eh, Canada?
After scrapping through a 3-1 win over Norway in its 2014 Olympic hockey opener on Thursday, Canada dropped the hammer on Austria, winning easily Friday 6-0.
That explosion of offense was keyed by Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter, who was demoted to Canada’s 13th forward by coach Mike Babcock after a less-than-stellar performance in the opener.
Carter proved his hunger in the first period, earning minutes on Canada’s third line with Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Toews, and it paid off on the scoreboard in the second.
The winger scored the team’s third, fourth and fifth goals over a 12-minute span, completing the first natural hat trick in Olympic play since 1988 and Canada’s first since 1956.
“Keeping it simple,” Carter told NBC’s Pierre McGuire during second intermission. “I’m benefiting off my linemates’ work, going to the net and tapping pucks in. They haven’t been pretty, but we’ll take every one.”
Carter finished with a team-best plus-5 rating, while Marleau (three assists), Toews (one assist) and defenseman Duncan Keith all turned in plus-3s. Carter spoke during the intermission of the ease of playing alongside Toews, who assisted on Drew Doughty’s goal, which opened the scoring.
“He’s easy to play with,” Carter said. “He plays a simple game. He gets in there, grinds it out and gets pucks to the net. It makes it pretty easy for me.”
Doughty and Shea Weber both recorded their second goals of the tournament to give Canada a 2-0 lead in the first, and Ryan Getzlaf put a ribbon on the scoring late in the second with a brilliant shorthanded goal.
Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo also put together a fine performance in his first start of the tournament, shutting out an Austrian squad that includes New York Islanders forwards Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner. Grabner, who recorded a hat trick Thursday in a loss to Finland, had Austria’s best chance to get on the board, but his shot from the point ricocheted off the corner of the cage.
Canada will face its toughest test of the preliminary round Sunday against Finland, which crushed Norway 6-1 on Thursday to improve to 2-0.
Photo via Twitter/@GlobeOlympics