Russia shuts down Canada to win hockey gold
It was midway through the third period and Dany Heatley found himself in a place close to his heart — in the slot with the puck on his stick.
An instant later, the puck bounced off Ilya Bryzgalov's noggin and out of harm's way.
"I'd like to have that one back," said Heatley.
Then in the last minute of the third period, Shane Doan couldn't catch the puck on the fly and had he snagged it, he would have had a breakaway.
"That one will stick with me for a while," said Doan.
Those are just two of the memories the Canadians will mull over in the next few days as they decompress from losing 2-1 to Russia in Sunday's championship game of the world tournament in Bern, Switzerland.
The Canadians turned in a superb effort. They played with purpose. They went hard, carried the play and had scoring chances. But they will return home with a second straight silver medal.
'It always hurts'
The Russians, meanwhile, defended the world crown they won a year ago in Quebec City.
"No matter what, it always hurts," said the classy Doan.
"It is one of those games when you are angry about yourself," said Steve Stamkos. "It is certainly one thing I will remember and I hope it never happens again."
What was shocking was how the Russians sat back for almost the last half of the game and nursed the lead. The Russians took away their top offensive tool — the long pass — and the Canadians couldn't counter.
For most of the third period, the Russians would dump the puck into the Canadian zone from centre and then take up their defensive positions as if it were back in the Cold War days and they were defending their homeland.
Touch of luck
"We carried most of the play for the last 40 minutes but we have a silver medal and they have gold," said head coach Lindy Ruff. "Hockey sometimes is a cruel sport."
"Canada played a great game and we were just a little but lucky," said Alexander Radulov, who scored the winning goal.
Radulov scored at 14:30 of the second period. He hung on to the puck on a 2-on-1, faked defenceman Chris Phillips and then beat goalie Dwayne Roloson with a wrist shot on the stick side.
After his goal, Radulov celebrated rather exuberantly, twirling his stick in the air as if it were a sword and later said he was trying to "conserve energy." Radulov is not known as a man of his word. Earlier this season, he walked out on his contract with the Nashville Predators to join a Russian club team.
When the buzzer sounded, controversial Russian billionaire Alexander Medvedev jumped over the boards and joined the celebrations. He hugged and kissed his fellow countrymen and pumped his fists into the air.
Russian journalists, meanwhile, also hugged and kissed each other and took Russia jerseys out of their bags and slipped them on. Two of them each had a gold medal around their neck along with autographed jerseys and sticks when they arrived back at the media centre to file their reports.
Jason Spezza had opened the scoring in the first period. Oleg Saprykin replied for Russia on the power play.
Canada outshot the Russians 37-18.
Olympics next on international calendar
This game will likely be fresh in the minds of both national teams heading into next year's international competition — the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Doan didn't have to be reminded that the next time Canada plays Russia could be at the Vancouver Games.
"Anyone who plays on that team, they will not need setting up for the game. They will be ready to go. It is at home and it is the Olympics and it is a whole different thing," said Doan. "It is the Olympics and it is bigger than hockey and anybody who plays on that team will be fired up on their own."
Steve Yzerman took in the world tournament in his job as executive director of the Olympic team. He was scouting the Canadians in preparation for a summer evaluation camp and also scouting the Europeans.
Stamkos carried himself well, but conceded he was a long shot to play in Vancouver.
Yzerman isn't ruling anybody out.
"A couple of guys really impressed me. Really at this stage we are just figuring out who will come to our camp this summer," he said. "You learn a lot about the players, what they can do and in some cases, what they can't do."