With Guns Blazing Early, Canada Crushes Russia 7-3


February 24, 2010

With Guns Blazing Early, Canada Crushes Russia 7-3Final, Canada 7, Russia 3: What a game, as Canada lights the lamp seven times to advance to the Olympic semifinals. The matchup was frantic in the first half, then stalled out a bit as the game went on.

Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead as Russian goalie Evgeni Nabokov (17 saves) looked completely stymied in goal. He was yanked halfway through the second in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov, who gave up just one goal the remainder of the way (15 saves).

Canada came out with both guns blazing in the first, taking 21 shots on goal. Russia tried to keep up with 12, a figure that went down to eight in the second. They were a non-entity in the third, taking just one shot on goal all period.

The Canadians have certainly put the U.S. upset behind them and will be a ferocious competitor the rest of the tournament.

Third period, 1:00, 7-3: Tensions are running a bit high, as Pronger and Andrei Markov engage in a bit of ritualistic shoving.

The Canadians almost netted an eighth goal, but missed out and are now simply focusing on keeping the puck away from Russia.

Third period, 4:30, 7-3: There's a tussle going on as Boyle kicked Semin's feet out from under him going up the ice, with both hitting the deck. Boyle then popped up and hovered over Semin, glaring at him. This immediately followed a massive hit Semin put on Boyle, which was a bit high. Crosby popped off the bench, without his helmet, in a brief moment of seeking revenge.

At the same time, Getzlaf was mouthing off to a Russian next to him while on the bench. He got a gentle elbow in the face as a retort.

Semin goes to the box for high sticking, Boyle for tripping.

Third period, 4:30, 7-3: Chris Pronger goes down for holding. There's one minute left on the power play, but Russia doesn't seem to be playing with much urgency.

Russia just accidentally booted the puck over the blue line with a skate, but was able to recover. Malkin grabbed the puck and went one on one with Luongo. The Canadian won.

Third period, 7:15, 7-3: Ovechkin tried to glove a shot, but it hammered his palm — where there's no padding — and he immediately doubled over in pain and headed to the bench. He's currently agonizing over the hand, icing it.

Third period, 8:35, 7-3: A whole lot of nothing going on the last four minutes. A couple shots on goal, but nothing notable. It almost feels as if both teams are content to play out the string.

It's been all Canada this period, as a dejected Russian team only has one shot on goal to Canada's nine.

Third period, 12:45, 7-3: Russia's been racking up the penalty minutes lately. It was just assessed a minor for too many players on the ice. Fortunately for them, Canada couldn't capitalize.

Three of the last four penalties have gone to Russia.

Third period, 15:55, 7-3: Impressive series by Bryzgalov there on Canada's last-ditch attempt during the power play. Bryzgalov deflected the original shot, the rebound and then gloved a third follow-up shot.

Third period, 17:00, 7-3: Canada's been controlling the puck for the last minute with the man advantage thanks to a Sergei Gonchar hooking call. They clanged a puck off the pipes that the crowd thought was a goal.

Third period, 18:36, 7-3: Eric Staal just went down hard and looks to be in a lot of pain.

Staal and Volchenkov were chasing the puck down toward Russia's end of the ice after another errant Russian pass gave Canada a great opportunity to chip in another goal.

Staal was going full speed in the hope of reaching the puck first, but he slipped and hit the deck after a Volchenkov shoulder bump. His body hit the wall first, followed by his head. He is shaken up and heading to the bench under his own power.

Third period, 18:36, 7-3: It's been all offense for Russia so far, as it's clearly pushing the envelope here.

The Russians couldn't pop a goal in, however, off the power play that just ended. Duncan Keith was whistled just before the end of the second period for tripping.

Start of third period, 7-3 Canada: Russia's got a long way to go if it hopes to make a stirring comeback.

Here's one thought: stop giving up goals. The team did just that over the last 10 minutes of the second period after coughing up yet another one shortly after Russia switched goalies. Perhaps Bryzgalov just needed to get acclimated to the game. That's the silver lining in what is clearly a bad situation for Russia.

Canada just needs to focus on prevention. Lock up the defense. It's important to stay on the offense to keep pushing Russia back, but they could also just line up all five players in front of their goal, block every point of entry and gut it out for 20 minutes.

End of second period, 7-3 Canada: In the waning seconds of the second period, Russia had yet another golden opportunity to hammer home another goal.

Unsurprisingly, the pass to create the shot was muffed. Both teams played a lot more deliberately in this period. Russia sacrificed their speed in order to focus on execution. They haven't quite got that pinned down, though. Canada beat them at their own game, slowing down their plays as well.

Canada posted a 6-5 advantage on shots on goal during the second period, compared to their 21-12 advantage in the first.

Second period, 0:55.0, 7-3: Russia just narrowly missed a goal. After wining a faceoff, a slap shot from the blue line almost spun past a late-reacting Luongo, who had come out deep. Canada got away with one there.

Second period, 3:15, 7-3: Malkin and Ovechkin are struggling to find a rhythm as they keep bringing the puck up the ice, yet keep losing it to the Canadian defensemen due to bad passes.

It's becoming quite a trend: Russia pushes the puck up the ice, loses possession and has to book it back double-time to defend its goal.

Second period, 7:02, 7-3: Konstantin Korneyev is called for interference, which gives Canada an excellent chance to match their total goals from Tuesday against Germany.

Second period, 8:20, 7-3, Canada: Russia wins the faceoff and executes a simple play with a "meat and potatoes" shot according to the NBC announcers. 

The goal was scored by Sergei Gonchar after Canada was assessed a team penalty of too many players on the ice. It's just the third power play goal for Russia in the Games over 18 attempts.

Second period, 9:00, 7-2: Canada almost had another slam dunk that improbably doesn't go in. It's one of the few things that hasn't gone right for them so far.

That attempt was preceded by a Russian storming of the Canadian goal — but that went nowhere. It's one of the many things that hasn't gone right for them so far.

Second period, 10:05, 7-2 Canada: You could see that coming a mile away. 

The score is now 7-2 in favor of Canada, as Ryan Getzlaf executes a beautiful pass in between Russian skates to Eric Staal, who dekes Bryzgalov on a pass to Perry, who flips it home easy-peasy for his second of the night.

Second period, 10:57, 6-2: Some nice, crisp hockey from both sides gets stopped due to an offsides play.

Russia should have been assessed a penalty for a hit on Crosby, but it seems the referees missed it. The team was assuming a pass was headed for Sid the Kid.

Second period, 13:13, 6-2: Stop the presses! Canada took a shot on goal and the Russian goalie stopped it.

Second period, 15:12, 6-2 Canada: I thought this was a hockey game, but we're looking at a baseball score here and the game isn't even halfway over.

Russia's Maxim Afinogenov flips a shot over the glove of Luongo, giving the team a shot of adrenaline immediately following the insertion of the new goalie. This might be the momentum shift the Russians needed, but five (now four) goals down is a big, big hole to climb out of.

Second period, 16:50, 6-1 Canada: Speak of the devil. Shea Weber sent a slap shot right down Nabokov's sights that found the goal.

Russia's seen enough, and Bryzgalov is now taking over between the pipes.

This is flat-out embarrassing for Russia.

Second period, 16:50, 5-1 Canada: It seems as if Russia is playing a bit more methodically, sacrificing its end-to-end speed for more deliberate actions. Hard to argue with that.

What you can argue about is the Russian defense, as it just keeps giving up easy opportunities.

Nabokov came way out of the goal — past the blue half-circle — and paid for it when Getzlaf fed a pass to Corey Perry.

When does Russia start thinking about pulling Nabokov?

Start of second period, 4-1 Canada: The Canadians have outshot Russia 21-12. Canada is the Olympic leader in shots on goal and it's not particularly close.

It's hard to disagree with their strategy. The more shots on goal, the better the odds that they actually score.

What will be interesting to see is how Russia approaches this deficit and what its plan of attack is in the second period.

End of first period, 4-1 Canada: A very encouraging period for Canada — obviously — which scored four goals in the period. Pacing 12 goals for a game, especially against another powerhouse, is impressive.

Russia simply isn't executing in any facet of the game, to put it in simple terms. Its offense, while exhibiting tremendous speed, isn't getting off crisp passes and its defense has been overwhelmed by the Canadian attack.

First period, 1:36, 4-1 Canada: Incredible play by Nabokov to save his team from suffering a second goal by Nash. Canada entered into some excellent passing across the ice to pull Nabokov into multiple directions, but he recovered to reject Nash's tip-in attempt.

He couldn't save a backhander, though, from Brenden Morrow, who got the puck behind the net, sent it backwards behind the net and then edged his way in front of Nabokov, taking a seat on the ground at one point due to all the jostling. After he got back up, he set up behind the net and grabbed the puck then wormed his way to the goal.

First period, 3:30, 3-1: Drew Doughty certainly tried to widen the margin of scoring, but couldn't push the puck in the goal as he was unable to get far enough around the right post.

Russia is starting to find its game and pressure the puck, but Canada is still firmly in control as Russia looks a bit disjointed in executing its plays.

A reminder that the winner of this game will face either Sweden or Slovakia, with the two teams doing battle later tonight.

First period, 5:21, 3-1 Canada: Finally, good news for Russia. Dmitri Kalinin was fed by Volchenkov who shot it at Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo from the right side, the puck crossing over and ending up on the left.

First period, 7:05, 3-0 Canada: And the goals keep on coming for Canada. Evgeni Malkin commits a turnover, with Rick Nash the beneficiary. Nash passes the puck to Jonathan Toews who brings it down the ice. Toews sends it right on back to Nash who flicks it in.

The Russians can't be pleased with the play of their goalie and will have to answer for their decision to start Nabokov over Ilya Bryzgalov.

First period, 7:47, 2-0 Canada: Another goal for Canada, scored by Boyle, who was crucial in the first goal as well.

Boyle got off a wrist shot near the blue line. The puck tumbled in the air and moseyed right on by Nabokov.

First period, 9:38, 1-0: Canada just came very close to scoring again on a vacant net.

Crosby came down the ice and got tangled up with the Russians, getting off a feeble shot on goal. A scrum then ensued with the goal being abandoned by Nabokov.

Volchenkov is in the box for holding.

First period, 9:59, 1-0: The Russians had had an encouraging power-play chance as they kept pressing the puck in Canadian territory and almost came away with a goal a couple of times.

They more than tripled their shots on goal during that stretch, moving from two to seven.

First period, 12:02, 1-0: The game has been all Canada early — the team has seven shots already while Russia is at two.

The Canadians were just assessed a penalty for being a bit rough. Brent Seabrook heads to the penalty box for interference.

Canada isn't too hot on power play opportunities during the tournament, but they're a sight better than Russia — a team that has converted just 2 of 16 chances.

First period, 14:25, 1-0: Brenden Morrow just delivered a vicious hit on Anton Volchenkov, which has to be pleasing to Canadian fans. The team needs to establish its physical presence in the face of the Russian sharpshooters.

First period, 16:22, 1-0: Canada brings the pressure as it just narrowly misses another goal with a wide-open net.

Russian netminder Evgeni Nabokov beat the Canadians in the quarterfinals four years ago in the Torino Olympics, but Finland and the Czech Republic got the best of him.

Nabokov has a reputation as a solid goalie who fades in big games. He's not doing anything to dispel that notion so far.

First period, 17:39, 1-0 Canada: Canada certainly gets off on the right foot as Ryan Getzlaf scores early.

Defenseman Dan Boyle grabbed the puck at the Canadian blue line and brought it down toward the goal, weaving through traffic. He snapped off a pass to his right, and Getzlaf hammered it home.

Start of first period: The Russia-Canada game is starting, and the crowd is certainly on its toes hoping Canada can avenge its shocking loss to the U.S. on Sunday.

Russia is on a three-game winning streak against Canada in men's international play, giving this game added meaning to America's northern neighbors.

4:45 p.m.: Fresh off an 8-2 thrashing of Germany on Tuesday night, Canada looks to advance to the semifinal game — but it has to get past Russia first.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m. (TV: CNBC), the quarterfinal battle figures to be an excellent game, as Canada and Russia are the two preeminent hockey powerhouses in the world.

The Canadians are led by star Sidney Crosby, while Russia is spearheaded by the dangerous Alexander Ovechkin.

ESPN's Pierre LeBrun says Ovechkin is chomping at the bit to deny Crosby a medal in his home country: "The second-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh last spring stung for Ovechkin, and what better way to avenge that loss than spoiling the party in Crosby's home Olympics? Don't think for a second Ovechkin isn't frothing at the mouth for the opportunity, and don't be surprised if he delivers one of the greatest performances of his career Wednesday."

Check back here at 7:30 p.m. and we'll bring all the action to you.

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