USA Holds Off Canada 5-3 in Olympic Hockey Shocker


February 22, 2010

USA Holds Off Canada 5-3 in Olympic Hockey Shocker

Final, USA 5, Canada 3: The Americans hold off a Canadian rally over the final seconds to take home an upset victory over a team considered to be the cream of the crop.

Defenseman Brian Rafalski scored two goals and assisted on an additional one. Rafalski was part of a team that was clearly lacking in size — both with physical play and speed.

Canada dominated most of the game before losing their rhythm late. A Sidney Crosby goal to pull the Canadians within one reinvigorated the team, but an American empty-netter minutes later sealed the deal.

The U.S. will advance to the quarterfinals, earning a bye from preliminary round play due to finishing among the top four teams in group play. America finishes an outright 3-0 with nine points.

Third period, 0:16.5, 5-3: A scrum just developed at the American goal as the Canadians were getting chippy and the U.S. would have none of it.

Third period, 0:44.7, 5-3, USA: That empty net came back to bite the Canadians, as America was able to dump the puck into Canada's side of the zone.

Ryan Kesler gave chase and one-handed the backhand around Corey Perry to seal the game.

Third period, 1:06, 4-3: An exciting couple minutes of hockey. Canada seems to be routing most of its passes through Doughty, who took a few shots of his own but couldn't make anything land.

The crowd is alive and Canada suddenly looks like its clicking on all cylinders again, constantly pressuring the Americans.

Ryan Miller worked double overtime there for a bit.

Canada is going to pull its goalie now.

Third period, 3:09, 4-3, USA: About Canada's new approach to the game not working?

It just did. A beautiful pass by Rick Nash following an Erik Johnson tripping penalty found its way to Sidney Crosby near the goal.

At that point, all Crosby had to do was angle the stick the right direction to nab the goal. Angle it, he did. Nab the goal, he did. It's a 4-3 game and we're coming down on the last couple minutes.

It's the first power play conversion by either team. Canada is now 4-for-16 in the Olympics on power plays.

Third period, 4:08, 4-2: Patrick Marleau just tried to jab in a goal, but Miller would have none of it.

There was a faceoff in American territory which ended up with the puck in Canada's hands. The puck routed through Doughty a few times as Canada tried to draw closer to the goal.

It's clear Canada is focusing less on long-range slap shots and trying to create opportunities. It certainly isn't working although they did get three shots on goal in that span.

Third period, 5:12, 4-2: Some end-to-end ice hockey being played. The Americans can feel victory within their grasp and are taking more liberties with physical play and sending the puck down the ice.

The Canadians are taking a few liberties of their own as well, but for completely different reasons.

Third period, 7:08, 4-2: So much for that opportunity. The Canadians pushed the puck up the ice but seemed too timid to take a shot or go into traffic, electing to pass the puck around the ice. A couple slap shots went errant.

As time expired on the power play, the Canadians made one final push that ended up with Canada in the goal. Unfortunately for the Maple Leaf nation, it was Sidney Crosby in the goal after tripping over a sprawling Ryan Miller, and not the puck.

Third period, 9:02, 4-2: Patrick Marleau sends a shot into Miller's glove. As the TV announcer says, "this is the game right here." This power play chance must be converted by Canada.

Third period, 9:11, 4-2: A power play is on the way for Canada, and they need to take advantage of this opportunity if they hope to come back for a win. Kane was called for hooking.

Third period, 10:23, 4-2: The Americans are controlling the tempo now. As the Canadians try to push up the ice, the Americans are disrupting their passes. This is causing the Canadians to double back and start their plays over again, but the U.S. is staying right on top of them.

In the third period, Canada has just one shot on goal. America isn't much better with two, but they've converted one.

Third period, 12:45, 4-2 USA: Defenseman Brian Rafalski just barely missed a hat trick, getting off a vicious slapshot right into Brodeur's goal after being deflected off Langenbrunner's left skate.

The goal was preceded by some very nifty passing, going from Zach Parise to Ryan Suter to Rafalski, back to Suter, off to Paul Stastny, then being buried in the goal by Rafalski.

Third period, 13:55, 3-2: Corey Perry heads to the penalty box for slashing as he shaved Brown's stick in half.

The last three minutes have all been the U.S.A., keeping the puck in Canadian territory. Patrick Kane took a shot that was blocked before Perry's slash.

The momentum shift has been clear, and now Canada is beginning to play with a tinge of desperation, which is impacting their ability to take the puck down the ice.

Third period, 16:15, 3-2: Crosby is now back on the ice, as America couldn't convert a power play. Neither team has done well on power plays so far this game, with four total chances.

Erik Johnson and Jack Johnson engaged in some nifty passing during this power play opportunity, trying to push the puck closer. The Johnsons were unable to seal the deal.

Third period, 18:22, 3-2: Another power play chance for America as Sidney Crosby gets called for high-sticking while trying to protect his goal.

Third period, 18:50, 3-2: The power play opportunity passes without incident, although not want of trying on the Americans' part.

A slapshot was sent in Brodeur's direction as the power play was winding down that got bounced around a bit. Zach Parise ended up with the puck and sent another shot winding towards the goal, but it was deflected.

Beginning of third period, 3-2 USA: Despite the Canadians controlling the game in the second period, one aspect they didn't control was shots on goal. After a dominating 19-6 mark in the first period, Canada lost out to the Americans in that category 13-12 in the second period.

Once things kick off, the Canadians will be shorthanded with Staal in the penalty box for a remaining 1:06 after being called for holding.

One thing you can't deny the Americans: they've finished the chances they've been given. Canada's been all flash, no substance thus far.

End of second period, 3-2 USA: The second period comes to a close with the Americans on top.

The second period was much the same as the first — fast-paced hockey mostly controlled by the bigger and faster Canadiens.

The American hockey players must have read "The Little Engine That Could" growing up, however, because they're hanging in there tooth-and-nail and now are 20 minutes away from a stunning upset and a preliminary round bye.

Second period, 1:31, 3-2: Some hard playing by Dustin Brown, who had a one-on-one affair with Brodeur that the goalie saved. He turned away a rebound as well, and the Canadiens sent things down the ice.

Rafalski came out of nowhere to make a deft save and turn things back over to Brown, who went down for attempt No. 2. That was unsuccessful as well, but that was some great breakneck-playing hockey.

Second period, 3:14, 3-2 USA: Chris Drury lights the lamp, taking U.S.A. to a 3-2 lead. There was a mad scramble in front of the goal that left Brodeur on the seat of his pants thanks to David Backes. The goal was left unprotected, so the Americans tried to take advantage.

It looked as if they wouldn't as a mass of red converged, but Drury snaked through traffic to set off a celebration.

Second period, 3:57, 2-2: Scratch the ibuprofen, how about some traffic lights? Some crossed signals sent Corey Perry right into Eric Staal, and Perry went down hard. Two other Canadians kissed the ice, and the Canada head trainer was immediately out on the ice. It looked worse than it was, however, as it looks like everyone is fine.

Second period, 5:30, 2-2: Someone get Martin Brodeur some ibuprofen. Rafalski took the puck hard across center ice and let loose at the blue line. The puck clanged off Brodeur's head, and he had to remove his helmet to shake the cobwebs off.

Second period, 5:50, 2-2: Joe Thornton just came incredibly close to getting a goal, but Miller denies the Canadians once again. He's stopped 26 so far on the night.

Second period, 7:01, 2-2: Bobby Ryan just showed Canada that the Americans can fight, too. Canada was controlling the puck in American territory before a check into the boards by Ryan put that to rest.

Second period, 8:20, 2-2: Drew Doughty of Canada may have saved his country from going down 3-2.

Dustin Brown was hurtling down the ice, but Doughty put both his body and his stick in the way, causing Brown to skate away from the goal.

Langenbrunner tried to keep the play alive, but no dice.

Second period, 9:33, 2-2: Marleau stops play as he didn't allow Ryan Miller to clear the puck out of the crease. While Marleau is the topic, it's his line along with Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley that's making most of the noise tonight.

Second period, 10:20, 2-2: A vicious check by a Canadian at the corner of the TV screen as the Americans push the puck up the ice. Chris Drury, part of the American fourth line responsible for much of the team's success in the Games, almost sent a puck past a deking Martin Brodeur. Unfortunately, there was too much traffic in front of Brodeur.

Second period, 12:27, 2-2: It's almost awe-inspiring how well Canada is playing, sans the errant passes.

They're outracing the Americans and possess a clear size advantage, throwing around their weight whenever they want to.

When watching the game, the word "scrappy" springs to mind regarding the Americans. The U.S. can't beat Canada in a race, nor can they assert any physicality. And yet, they just keep banging away.

Second period, 15:10, 2-2: Have to think an opportunity was just wasted by America. Jamie Langenbrunner sent a pass to Zach Parise who was about to attempt a slapshot before being whistled for offsides.

The Americans had just turned the tide seconds before after fighting off a Canadian onslaught on both sides of the ice.

There may be the same number of American and Canadian players on the ice, but it's been all red this second period.

Second period, 16:28, 2-2: A goal for Dany Heatley, who took a Jonathan Toews backhanded pass right in front of Miller all the way home. this game is now tied up.

Second period, 19:00, 2-1: A kick save by Miller. U.S.A. keeps getting bailed out by the Buffalo Sabre goaltender. A nod to Ryan Kesler for disrupting the shot just as it was being taken.

Canada's coming out hard this period. they could use a bit of support from the crowd which is surprisingly quiet.

Beginning of second period, 2-1 USA: As we kick off the second period, something to keep in mind is power play opportunities. Both sides couldn't convert their single chance in the first, which is part of a larger storyline.

America is just 2-for-9 in power play opportunities while Canada is 3-for-14. For those fans who would prefer to see a game won on the ice and not based on penalties, this might be the game for you.

Also, for those seeking to watch the game on TV, it is on MSNBC, which is not part of the basic cable package.

End of first period, 2-1 USA: The first period ends with Miller making another save and a legal shove by an American behind the U.S. goal that disrupted a threatening Canadian opportunity.

Canada has 19 shots on goal compared with six for the U.S. It's clear that the Canadians aren't firing on all cylinders just yet — they've executed some beautiful schemes that get wrecked by errant passing.

Credit to the Americans for forcing that errant passing, though. The defense is bending, but not breaking.

First period, 2:45, 2-1: Canada keeps attempting to sneak the puck past the American offense, setting up a 4-on-2 advance, but the U.S. keep breaking the attempts up. America's gotten a few lucky saves here, and it seems inevitable Canada will score using that scheme.

First period, 3:53, 2-1: An errant stick on the ice impeded a U.S. advance to Canada.

The neighbors to the north keep trying to advance the puck quickly, but the Americans are having none of it, disrupting everything and spending a good amount of time in Canadian territory.

First period, 5:52, 2-1: Quite the save by Miller as the Canadians did a bit of nice passing to send the puck to Patrick Marleau who ran up to Miller and did everything but place the puck in the net. Miller's rejected 12 shots already.

First period, 8:05, 2-1 USA: The Canadiens squander an opportunity there as Ryan Miller rejects a shot on goal and then slaps the rebound away.

First period, 8:45, 2-1: If all this scoring is foreign to you, consider that the Olympic rink is bigger than NHL regulation. That creates more open space for players to fly through and bang goals home.

First period, 10:45, 2-1 USA: A hallmark of very good teams is how quickly they can bounce back from being scored upon.

Well, consider the Americans very good. Canadian goalie Martin Brodeur attempted to dump the puck, but Rafalski corraled it and took it to the net, netting his second goal of the game with over 10 minutes to play in the first period.

First period, 10:50, 1-1: Canada comes through with a goal, with Eric Staal flipping the puck into Miller's direction from the blue line. A baffled Miller could only wave as the puck sailed by, tying the game at one apiece.

First period, 11:53, 1-0: The Canadians couldn't take advantage of a power play, but it did serve to settle them down and show their talent. They kept the pressure on and made the Americans scramble to dump the puck over the blue line.

First period, 13:03, 1-0: One of the keys to the game for USA is puck possession and playing with high energy. There's a fine line between that and running amok, taking minors. So far, the Americans are straddling the line, with Joe Pavelski taking a high-sticking call to the penalty box.

First period, 16:33, 1-0 USA: Brian Rafalski gets the scoring started for the American just 41 seconds into the period, taking a shot from the blue line that clanked off Scott Niedermayer's stick into the Canadian goalie.

Rafalski, a defenseman, scored two goals against Norway in the U.S.'s previous game and is on fire.

For a team that will have to withstand a furious Canadian onslaught on offense behind goalie Ryan Miller, the Americans sure got things off to a good start.

4:14 p.m.: Join us here at 7:30 p.m. for a live blog of the USA and Canada Olympic ice hockey game, as the United States attempts to snap a losing streak against the Canadians dating back to 1960 (2-10-3 all time, 0-5-1 since 1960).

Monday is the 30th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice game when the U.S. shocked the Soviet Union in the semifinals, so perhaps the Americans will commemorate the anniversary with another upset.

If the Americans win the game, the team will receive a bye, advancing to the preliminary round, along with three other teams. The team's 2-0 record is currently enough for first place with six points.

Canada is in second place with two wins, one coming in overtime. It gives the team five points, which places major emphasis on tonight's game. If Canada wins, they will vault ahead of the U.S. into first place, which could force America to fight with the eight remaining teams for a spot in the quarterfinals if it doesn't get the fourth bye.

It figures to be an entertaining matchup. Boston Bruin Patrice Bergeron will be playing for Canada alongside star Sidney Crosby (Penguins) and a veritable who's who of hockey. The Americans will counter with star netminder Ryan Miller (Sabres), and an offense headlined by Patrick Kane (Blackhawks), Brian Rafalski (Red Wings) and Phil Kessel (who needs no introduction).

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