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Canada put in an absolutely dominant defensive performance to advance to the gold medal game, frustrating and limiting the Americans top offensive players by keeping them mainly to the outside late in the game. At even strength, portions of the third period looked like a Canadian power play, as the team’s NHL superstars played keep away with the puck. Canada has now allowed just three goals in five games all tournament and will be the favourite in Sunday’s final against injury-ravaged Sweden.
In the second period, Canada’s pressure paid off early, with the U.S. blueline looking overmatched as a wide open Jamie Benn tipped in a Jay Bouwmeester shot for the game’s first goal. It was a good example of Canada’s edge in this game, with their depth giving the Americans a difficult time on both the fore-check and back-check. Overall, the second was close the rest of the way, setting up an incredible finish in the final 20 minutes.
The first period was played at an unbelievably high pace, with none of the trapping hockey Canada has run into previously in the tournament. After an even first 10 minutes, Canada had the better chances, but both goaltenders were excellent to keep the game scoreless after 20. Carey Price was in goal for Canada; Jonathan Quick for the U.S.
Now that Team Canada is headed to the gold-medal game, who’s getting up for 7 a.m. beers? In Toronto, bars have been given the green light to serve.
Canada has to be favourite on Sunday. Sweden beat up, missing three good offensive players. Lundqvist the x-factor.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) February 21, 2014
NBC is expecting record online viewership for this game, after nearly 800,000 people watched an Internet live stream of the United States’ 5-2 victory over the Czech Republic on Wednesday.
Canadian coach Mike Babcock’s optimism going into the game paid off:
I’m pumped. We’re starting to look like a team and be like a team and you’re organized like a team and you feel comfortable because you’re not running around trying to do a million things. It’s great.