SOCHI, Russia – Hockey’s superpower is golden again.
Using unparalleled depth and an impenetrable defense, Team Canada captured its second straight Olympic gold medal in men’s ice hockey, shutting out Sweden, 3-0, on Sunday in Sochi.
The Canadians finished 6-0-0 in the tournament. They never trailed in any of their games.
Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz had the goals; Carey Price and the Canadian defense did the rest against an undermanned Swedish attack. Already missing stars Henrik Zetterberg and Henrik Sedin, first-line center Nicklas Backstrom missed the gold medal game due to a violation of IOC doping rules.
His presence may not have mattered. As they did against the Americans in the semifinals, Canada’s defensemen prevented any Swedish offensive zone time. Their forward harassed their point men. It was, at times, a clinic.
Unlike their game against the Americans, Canada gave Price goal-scoring support.
Canada broke through first thanks to a dynamic shift from Jonathan Toews. When Sweden took the puck at center ice, Toews shifted from offense to defense, hounding a forward until he coughed up the puck. The Canadians moved down the ice and established a cycle. Jeff Carter sent a pass from the right boards to Toews in front, where Patrick Berglund couldn’t hold his check. Toews deflected it home, and Canada had the 1-0 lead.
In the 2010 Vancouver Olympics gold medal game, Toews opened the scoring at 12:50 of the first period. In the 2014 gold medal game, he opened it at 12:55.
Crosby scored with 4:17 left in the second period and a stellar individual effort. Sweden was pressing offensively, and Crosby stripped Jonathan Eriksson of the puck. The Canadian captain motored past Alex Steen and into the clear. He skated in on Lundqvist and tucked the puck on his backhand off the left skate and over the goal line for the 2-0 lead and his first goal of the tournament.
Crosby’s much-maligned linemate, Kunitz, made it 3-0 at 9:04 of the third period, snapping a shot past Lundqvist for an unassisted goal for his first goal in Sochi.
Price was great when he needed to be, making 24 saves. He got some help in the first when a Gustav Nyqvist shot rang off the post and rolled behind him, his glove reaching back to cover it.
With 4:44 left in the second period, Price made an save of great glove-eye coordination, as a puck deflected off the stick of Marcus Kruger and handcuffed the goalie.
But nothing got past him. Price only gave up three goals in the five games he appeared in.
He was unbeatable in the gold medal game. So was Canada in Sochi.