February 18, 2010
Is there a better representation of the underdog, tenacious Swiss nearly stunning the elite Canadians for the second time in four years -- to the day -- than Kid Crosby on the bench, blood dripping from his nose into his mouth after a Swiss high stick?
Conversely, is there a better symbol of Canada's determination to win gold on home ice than seeing its poster boy skating away from his successful second shootout attempt with a stoic, relieved expression as the crowd roared euphorically?
Is this how the Pittsburgh Penguins captain envisioned winning an Olympic shootout?
"It was usually on the first one," said Crosby. "But Marty gave me a second chance."
Martin Brodeur(notes) of the New Jersey Devils made 23 saves, giving up a goal to Ivo Ruthemann on a perfectly placed slap shot and having a second puck deflect in off of Patrick Marleau's(notes) skate. But he lived up to his legend in the shootout, successfully defending four Swiss attempts, including a tremendous save on Roman Wick going to his right.
Coach Mike Babcock cited Brodeur's play in overtime and the shootout as an example of leadership. He was named the starter for Sunday's war with the United States, despite Roberto Luongo's(notes) confident shutout performance against Norway in Game 1.
"You have to embrace the pressure situation and respond and I think Marty did that," said Babcock.
Of course, Brodeur's effort would have been wasted had it not been for Crosby solving Jonas Hiller(notes), who was brilliant in a 44-save performance that nearly repeated Martin Gerber's(notes) stunner in 2006.
"It was one of those nights when he wasn't going to budge. He was in the zone, making some big saves," said Crosby.
The Olympic shootout format calls for three competitors from each nation to start. Babcock said the order for Team Canada was determined by the players' success in the NHL, taking the top three as his top three: Crosby, Jonathan Toews(notes) of the Chicago Blackhawks and Ryan Getzlaf(notes) of the Anaheim Ducks. Hiller turned all three aside.
Neither Crosby nor Hiller said they knew what was next. Hiller actually skated to the Swiss bench and then had to return to the ice, as the shooting sequence reversed after three shooters.
Crosby was also confused. "I wasn't sure what the format was. When those three shooters were over, I wasn't sure if they just brought those three back, kept going or brought new guys. Coach came over and said 'You want to go again' and I said 'Sure, I'll try.'"
Said Babcock: "I thought he had a look at him once and would get him a second time.
Crosby said he learned something about Hiller from shootout chance to shootout chance. "He's just got quick feet. I saw guys generally shot high. I tried to get him backing up a little bit," he said.
The result was a game-winning goal whose crowd reaction may still have Hockey Place's walls vibrating.
"That's a hot goalie you're facing. It's one game. So many things can happen. You have to make the most of the chance you get," said Crosby.
"It's a lot of fun. Being Canadian, and being a hockey fan in Canada, it doesn't get any better."
At least not yet.