One day after the United States women’s hockey team had the gold medal ripped from their hands in a heartbreaking loss to Canada, the American men’s team sought to even the score.
Instead, the Canadians proved their might with an overwhelming semifinal victory over Team USA, albeit by the deceivingly tight score of 1-0 on Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi (BOX SCORE).
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma‘s team had outscored its opponents 20-6 entering the rematch of the 2010 gold medal game, but the favored Canadians dominated puck possession and forced the Americans to chase. Jamie Benn scored the lone goal early in the second, the only of countless scoring chances that ended up behind superb American goalie Jonathan Quick.
Quick stopped 36 shots, but Canadian counterpart Carey Price denied all 31 for his second shutout of the Olympics. Price was quite good early on, including a point-blank save on Zach Parise during a USA power play, giving his teammates just enough margin for error.
The Penguins duo of Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz convincingly drove play in the offensive zone for Canada. Teamed up with Patrice Bergeron, they generated nine shots on goal and several other quality opportunities. Both Crosby and Kunitz were robbed by Quick late, keeping the Americans in it until the final horn.
As we told you this morning, defenseman Paul Martin sat out with an undisclosed right hand injury, so Brooks Orpik was the only Penguins player to suit up for Team USA. Orpik played 16:04 mostly alongside John Carlson, but wasn’t as effective without the smooth-skating Martin, who will be evaluated upon his return to Pittsburgh.
The Canadians will go against Sweden in Sunday’s gold medal game, while Team USA has a date with Finland in the bronze match at 10 a.m. Eastern time Saturday. If the Americans win tomorrow, it will mark their first back-to-back Olympic men’s hockey medals since 1956-60.
Sweden topped Finland 2-1 in Friday’s first semifinal (BOX SCORE). Penguins teammates Olli Maatta and Jussi Jokinen remain alive for Olympic medals, just not the color they were gunning for. Maatta had a rare rough moment against Sweden, turning over a puck that led to the tying goal against.
Still, the 19-year-old defender had four shots in 16:54. Jokinen generated one shot and earned a plus-1 rating.