For the first time in 62 years, Team Canada wins back-to-back Olympic gold medals, blanking Sweden by a score of 3-0. With the win, three members of the Los Angeles Kings finish on top of the mountain in Sochi as they will soon return to Los Angeles with their hard-earned gold. Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter and trainer Darren Granger will leave Sochi knowing they represented their NHL team very well.
As for the game itself, Team Canada entered their gold-medal matchup against a Sweden team wasn't the least bit deterred by anything. Despite not having Henrik Sedin or Henrik Zetterberg due to injury, the Swedes rolled past their opposition, quietly winning Group C while finished undefeated as the tournament's top seed. After defeating Finland 2-1 in their semi-final on Friday, the blue-and-gold looked primed to capture their first gold in men's hockey since 2006. But while the Canadians didn't score as much as many thought, they were a defensive machine, allowing a grand total of three goals entering Sunday's final.
Entering Sunday's final, however, it was learned that if Sweden were to win gold, they'd have to do so without forward Niklas Backstrom. It was believed Backstrom was suffering from a migraine prior to the big game and to alleviate it, he took Claritin, which is a banned substance in the Olympics. With that, Backstrom was ineligible to play but neither team's focus was rattled.
In this one, the Canadians came out strong and played a consistent game against the Swedes. Having won gold in 2010, it was Team Canada's mission to repeat and not even a date with a powerful Swedish squad would deter them.
Towards the end of the first period, Canada opened the scoring - and it was set up by Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter. Carter, off to the side of the net and behind goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, found Jonathan Toews in front who tapped it in for his first of the tournament. Canada had the lead, but not a comfortable one.
In the second, Swedish defenseman Jonathan Ericsson made a defensive blunder at the offensive blueline, turning it over to none other than the goalless Sidney Crosby who broke in on a breakaway against Lundqvist making no mistake. It was 2-0 Canada.
While the Swedes continued to pressure them as best they could, Team Canada was having none of it. The defense was solid as was netminder Carey Price who stopped all 24 shots he faced and earning his second-straight shutout.
But just for good measure, the Canadians added another goal as in the third, Chris Kunitz wristed his first of the tourney over Lundqvist to give Canada a 3-0 lead - and that is how it ended.
While it certainly wasn't the offensive explosion most were expecting, Team Canada made up for their futility up front by playing a near-perfect defensive game throughout the tournament. Also, entering the tournament, I certainly had my doubts about Carey Price being a big-time goaltender. He certainly proved me wrong as he was outstanding - and flawless when it counted most both in Friday's semi-final and Sunday's final.
Having said that, though, the Canadians did step up offensively when they needed to the most. Better, all three goals scored by Team Canada on Sunday were scored by three players who entered the gold-medal matchup without a single tally. As a sidenote, both Crosby and Kunitz's goal were unassisted which shows that while Canada showed a great deal of team work, their ability to create turnovers and make individual impacts were second-to-none.
It is a great day for Canadian hockey as Team Canada closes out the Sochi Games with 10 gold medals, 10 silver and five bronze. While their total of 25 puts them one short of their 2010 total, it was still a wonderful Olympian for those donning the red maple leaf.
Congratulations to Team Canada on winning gold again and another congratulations to Team Sweden for a valliant fight to win the silver.