Photo credit: CBC
Entering these Olympics, Team Canada had a roster that left others shaking in their boots. But despite the plethora of talent up front including Crosby, Kunitz and Sharp, the Canadian forwards have been ineffective for the most part. Thank goodness GM Steve Yzerman picked a few defensemen who knew how to score.
Despite their 2-0-0 start, Team Canada had yet to face their toughest test, with all due respect to Norway and Austria who they beat on Thursday and Friday respectively. Sunday, the Canadians were facing Team Finland who was also boasting a 2-0-0 record and, like their opponents, were determined to win Group B. This would prove to be the tighest matchup for both countries - but it would be the red-and-white striking first - or so they thought.
With the Canadians in the Finnish zone looking to open the scoring, the puck fluttered in the air and over Tuukka Rask's head and in. But behind the net, Rick Nash batted the puck in with a high-stick. After a few replays were shown, it was unclear (to yours truly, at least) whether or not Nash made contact with the puck. Nevertheless, the on-ice officials believed he did and waved the goal off. It was still scoreless, but not for long.
With the game already at a fast tempo, the Canadians marched into the Finnish zone once again where, at the 13:44 mark, Drew Doughty blasted a point shot past Rask. 1-0 Canada. Shea Weber and Sidney Crosby recorded the assists.
For Rask, this game was meant to be redemption after allowing four goals in Finland's tournament-opening win against Austria. Despite allowing the goal, however, the Bruins netminder settled down.
After Doughty's goal, the Canadians pressed some more but could not capitalize on any chances. The Finns, meanwhile, were looking to create their own momentum but netminder Carey Price stood tall keeping them off the scoreboard. Price was able to keep the puck out for the entire first and most of the second period. But Finland, who scored 14 goals in their first two games, knew they could figure out a way to score sooner or later.
With exactly two minutes to go in the second, they did. With Team Canada in their own zone and committing a minor defensive gaffe, Tuomo Ruutu took full advantage, taking the puck and forcing Price one way while shooting the other. This game was all knotted up, setting the stage for a climactic third period.
Despite outshooting Finland 9-4 in the second, Team Canada could not score. But that didn't faze them as they outshot the Finns 8-2 in the third. Tuukka Rask, however, stood tall keeping the game tied, ultimately sending it into overtime.
In the extra frame, the Canadians had a couple chances but maintained control before the 2:32 mark. Then, it was the Kings Connection playing the role of heroes as Jeff Carter set up a streaking Drew Doughty who made no mistake, beating Rask and winning the game for the Canadians.
With the win, Team Canada clinches top spot in Group B and while both them and Finland get byes into the quarter-finals, the Canadians are set up with the easier test.
While Finland awaits the winner of Norway and host Russia, Canada will play the winner of Switzerland and Latvia on Wednesday.
While they finished the preliminary schedule undefeated, many in Canada are critical of their country's lack of offense. The two exceptions to that just happen to be the two representing the Los Angeles Kings. Both Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter lead Canada with four and three goals, respectively. Certainly not a bad way to enter the medal round.
Scoring both of Canada's goals on Sunday, the Twitterverse has suddenly exploded with Canadian fans all across the nation thanking Doughty, considering No. 8 for Prime Minister and even some calling their favourite Canadian line... Doughty. Oh, and who better to set Drew up in overtime than Los Angeles teammate Jeff Carter?
Talk about a royal finish!