VANCOUVER – Canadian men’s hockey has a golden Olympic shimmer once again.
The Canadian national team hung on for a stressful 3-2 victory in overtime to give the country a second Olympic gold medal to celebrate in eight years.
Sidney Crosby provided the heroics Sunday, seven minutes and 40 seconds into the extra period. He capped off a give-and-go with Jarome Iginla for the winner.
"It’s something that maybe comes only once in a lifetime," said Jonathan Toews, who scored the first goal.
"We were saying after the third period that somebody would come through for us and it was no coincidence that he did it. He’s a tremendous leader and has accomplished so much in his young career."
This time around, it obviously wasn’t as easy as when Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Co. stormed to a 5-2 victory in Salt Lake City. But winning at home at Canada Hockey Place was more satisfying and ignited one heck of a party nationwide.
The hockey win also gave Canada an Olympic-record 14 gold medals by a country in a single Winter Games.
Canadian players who have won Olympic gold for a second time:
Martin Brodeur, G.
Scott Niedermayer, D.
Chris Pronger, D.
Jarome Iginla, F.
The Canadians held a one-goal advantage entering the final 20 minutes. To protect the lead, they sat back and played a 1-2-2 trap that the Americans simply couldn’t penetrate until the final seconds.
U.S. forward Patrick Kane fired a shot at the net that hit teammate Jamie Langenbrunner’s skate and went on the Canadian goal. Zach Parise was Johnny-on-the-spot to knock in the rebound with 24.4 seconds left in regulation time.
Crosby had a breakaway with slightly more than three minutes left, but the puck was bouncing on him and he couldn’t get a shot off on U.S. goalie Ryan Miller.
NHL legend Gordie Howe, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and singer Michael Bublé were just many of the VIPs in the building. Of course, there also were a number of gold-medal-winning Canadian athletes like skeleton’s Jon Montgomery and the women’s hockey team's captain, Hayley Wickenheiser.
Canada strikes 1st
Canada had a 1-0 lead after the first period and held a 2-1 advantage following 40 minutes.
The atmosphere was electric once game time arrived and the Canadians wanted to keep the raucous environment alive. That was something they failed to accomplish in their preliminary-round match against the U.S. a week ago, when the U.S. scored on the first shift.
The game was fierce and physical in the first period as both teams tried to establish themselves in that department. U.S. defenceman Brooks Orpik was among the most physical. He almost deposited Canadian forward Dany Heatley into the U.S. bench with a bone-crunching hit.
Orpik, along with his defence partner, Jack Johnson, received the checking assignment on Canada’s line of Crosby, Eric Staal and Iginla.
There weren’t many excellent scoring chances early on. But with 7:10 remaining in the first period, Canadian forward Mike Richards stripped U.S. defenceman Brian Rafalski at the side of the U.S. goal. Richards put a shot on goal that produced a rebound his linemate Toews lifted over Miller’s left pad.
Although Canada did not have last change, the Toews, Richards and Rick Nash trio were out on most shifts against the dangerous U.S. line of Paul Stastny, Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner.
U.S. on the board
Canada went ahead by two goals after a pass attempt from Canada’s Ryan Getzlaf to Patrick Marleau hit U.S. defenceman Ryan Whitney and bounded to a trailing Corey Perry for a goal.
The U.S. finally got on the board when a crease-crashing Ryan Kesler redirected a pass from his linemate Patrick Kane and squeezed past Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo, who is Kesler’s teammate with the Vancouver Canucks.
The U.S. had an opportunity to tie the game on a two-on-one break shortly a few shifts later, but Parise held onto the puck and Luongo made the save.
"To come up short definitely hurts," said Kesler. "It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take at least two weeks to get over this.
"We wanted to throw the puck at the net because it looked like [Luongo] was fighting it."
Canada hit two posts early in the third period on shots from defencemen Shea Weber and Chris Pronger. Patrick Marleau and Heatley had two excellent chances off a Marleau steal, but Miller made stops on both close calls.
The Olympic tournament all-star team was Miller, Ralfaski, Weber, Slovakia's Pavol Demitra, Toews and Parise, with Miller earning MVP honours. Rafalski was named the tournament's top defenceman, while Toews was named the top forward.