It appears that the USA may have awoken a sleeping giant with its win over Canada on Sunday. Since being embarrassed by the Americans in a 5-3 loss, Canada has unleashed an unstoppable barrage of in-your-face, finesse hockey.
On Tuesday, Canada throttled Germany 8-2, and 24 hours later, in a game hyped like a gold-medal matchup, the giant killed the bear as Canada humiliated Alexander Ovechkin and the Russians in a 7-3 thrashing. The win sends Canada to the semifinals, where it will face either Slovakia or Sweden.
Canada held Ovechkin scoreless, while Ilya Kovalchuk and Evgeni Malkin could only muster one assist each. Meanwhile, the Canadians got goals from six different players. Corey Perry lit the lamp twice, and Dan Boyle and Ryan Getzlaf chipped in with a goal and two assists each. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith also had two helpers apiece.
Getzlaf scored 2:09 into the game, which sent an already amped Canadian Hockey Place crowd into bedlam and clearly stunned the Russians. Then, in a span of 46 seconds, the Canadians deflated the Russians before they had any chance to get their game going. First, Boyle rifled home a power-play goal at 12:09, and then Malkin coughed up the puck and Canadian forward Mike Richards pounced, dishing to Toews, who found a streaking Rick Nash for a breakaway goal at 12:55.
Dmitry Kalinin cut the lead to two goals when he beat Roberto Luongo (25 saves) at 14:39, but Brenden Morrow answered right back for Canada with 1:42 left in the opening frame.
Goaltending was a major difference, as the way Russian goalie Evgeni Nabokov played, he probably would have let a beach ball in the net. It was just not Nabokov’s night, as he allowed six goals on 23 shots. Amazingly, though it was clear Nabokov was struggling, he was not pulled after the first period despite allowing four goals. He finally got the hook after the sixth goal, when Shea Weber beat him from the point at 4:07 of the second period.
Ilya Bryzgalov allowed one goal on 19 shots in relief of Nabokov.
Russian head coach Vyacheslav Bykov will be questioned over and
over for that decision — and may even lose his job over it. He was
badly out-coached by Canada’s Mike Babcock in one of the biggest
games in the history of Russian hockey.
On the other end, Luongo looked a bit shaky in the first half of the game but got into his groove when Russia applied some rare pressure late in the second. Luongo made some big saves then and again to open the third period, and after Russia scored its second goal, Canada suffocated the Russians. Luongo turned aside all eight shots he faced in the final frame.
Also of note was the play of Weber, who not only scored a goal but also did an amazing job containing Ovechkin each time he entered the Canadian zone. The Canadians made Ovechkin a non-factor; the only time he was noticeable was when the crowd was taunting him.
Canada now has outscored its opponents 15-5 in the last two games and is clearly firing on all cylinders. Babcock’s line changes have paid off and the defense is generating offense with a precise transition game. Luongo has come through when needed and the team is playing better in front of him. Every player seems to have found his role, and this All-Star-like team is playing like a Stanley Cup champion in June.
Canada has found its game again, and with 17,000 cheering them on in person each game and a nation united, that’s bad news for the remaining teams in this Olympic tournament.
1. Ryan Getzlaf
2. Corey Perry
3. Dan Boyle