SOCHI: Sidney Crosby scored on a breakaway in the second period as Canada retained their Olympic title, rolling over Sweden 3-0 to claim a record ninth gold and the first on European soil in 62 years. Jonathan Toews and Chris Kunitz also scored and goaltender Carey Price posted the shutout for Canada who became the first country to win back-to-back Winter Olympic Games titles since the Soviet Union in 1988. It was the second-straight gold medal game where Canadian captain Crosby rose to the occasion.
Crosby, who clinched gold for Canada with an overtime winner in Vancouver in 2010, had been contributing on defence but wasn’t being rewarded for his efforts on the scoresheet in the Sochi Games. He had just two assists heading into the gold medal game. Crosby scored on a backhand deke to give Canada a 2-0 lead with 4:17 left in the second period after stripping the puck off Sweden’s Jonathan Ericsson at the Canadian blueline. He raced in alone on net and gave Swedish netminder Henrik Lundqvist a shoulder fake one way, then deked the other way and scored. Finland took bronze by beating the United States 5-0 on Saturday.
“It’s a great feeling. Look at Vancouver, and it was right down to the bitter end, an overtime nail-biter,” said Crosby. “Since then, a lot of things have happened, so to be back here in the same situation with a lot of the same guys that were in Vancouver, it’s pretty special. “Just the way that this whole group played and stayed poised. There were some question marks about our scoring, and I think we all believed in one another and the way we needed to play, and stuck with it, nobody changed anything. It says a lot about the group of guys here.” Lundqvist admitted that Canada had been the better side. “They were just better. I felt like they were a lot smarter with the puck. I felt like we gave them too many chances. We were leaving the puck in the wrong areas and they were quick to strike,” he said.
“Especially in the second period, we had a really tough time to get going. Overall they were just better today.” Sunday’s game, in front of a crowd of 11,076 at the Bolshoi Ice Palace, was a matchup of two undefeated teams and the last two Olympic winners as Canada was crowned champions four years ago and Sweden won gold in 2006. Crosby is one of 11 players back from 2010 for Canada who got the job done this time with a lockdown defence and strong goaltending from Carey Price. The Montreal Canadiens netminder carried the load in goal as Canada allowed just three goals in six games. Price made 23 stops on Sunday.
Canada also became the first undefeated men’s tournament champ since the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984 when the Soviet Union won the title without dropping a game. Canada and Sweden traded scoring chances early in the contest with Sweden’s Gustav Nyquist and Canada’s Patrice Bergeron hitting posts in the first period. Toews drew first blood for Canada by scoring from the front of the net with just over seven minutes left in the first period as he deflected a Jeff Carter pass through the legs of Lundqvist. Chris Kunitz added the insurance goal halfway through the third period by firing the puck over the right shoulder of Lundqvist.
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