Canada Crushes Ovechkin's Russian Team

  • February 24, 2010, 11:26 PM

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- A resurgent Canada ended 50 years of Olympic hockey frustration against Russia on Wednesday with a 7-3 win and a place in the tournament semifinals.

A goal and two assists from Dan Boyle during the first period helped Canada beat the world champions -- a feat they hadn't accomplished since the 1960 games -- in a showdown of hockey superpowers.

The physical, focused Canadians took advantage of terrible goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov and superior depth and size to open leads of 3-0, and then 4-1 in the first period, and the unexpected rout was on.

"I saw a team that wants to win and play smart hockey and another team that didn't play smart hockey and didn't play with passion," said backup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who replaced Nabokov in the second period. "I don't know why. Every one of us has to ask this question of themselves."

The Canadians will now meet Slovakia -- a 4-3 winner over 2006 champion Sweden -- in Friday's semifinals, and if they advance could face the United States in a rematch of the so-called Super Sunday game that saw Canada lose 5-3.

That disappointment marked their first Olympic loss to the U.S. since 1960. Wednesday's win over Russia was their first since the same tournament in Squaw Valley and only the second in 11 Olympic games against the Russians or Soviets.

Long before it was over, fans began chanting, "we want Sweden." After that, it was: "We want gold, we want gold."

Corey Perry upstaged Russia's big-name forwards with two goals. Shea Weber also scored and set the tone by upending Maxim Afinogenov with a board-rattling hit in the opening seconds and Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists. And Boyle frustrated Nabokov, his NHL teammate, by scoring a power-play goal and creating two others.

Nabokov, who plays for the San Jose Sharks of the NHL, allowed several soft goals early. The letdown they caused was evident on a downcast Russian bench, but coach Slava Bytov didn't pull Nabokov until Weber scored at 4:07 of the second period to make it 6-1.

Asked what he was thinking on the bench, Bryzgalov said, "I think like, 'uh-oh."'

Russia defeated Canada in each of the last two world championships, and seemed unprepared for the home team's aggression. Within the first few minutes, Russia learned that speed isn't a factor when players are knocked off their skates before they can advance into the offensive zone.

Remarkably, almost none of the pregame story lines played out. The Canadians didn't require a huge game in goal from Roberto Luongo, or a shutdown defensive performance.

And they didn't need a big game from star Sidney Crosby, who was as quiet offensively as Alex Ovechkin of Russia. For months, Canadian TV channels have aired a "Sid the Kid vs. Alexander the Great" special featuring the anticipated showdown, yet neither player had a point during a 10-goal game.

Luongo, who took over for a benched Martin Brodeur after the loss to the Americans, gave up goals to Afinogenov, Dmitri Kalinin, and Sergei Gonchar while making 25 saves.

"We did a great job, not only on (Ovechkin) but against all their top guys," Luongo said. "We wanted to not give them much room to skate. We went one-on-one with them and were right on them."

The two-time defending world champion Russians will leave the Olympics without a medal for the second successive games.

Russia lost in the bronze medal game in Turin and hasn't won an Olympics under the Russian name since the Soviet Union breakup, although a 1992 gold won by what was called the Unified Team is now recognized as a Russian gold.

If Canada goes on to win the gold medal, this dominating victory -- which occurred on the eighth anniversary of its 2002 gold medal victory over the U.S. in Salt Lake City -- is likely to be mentioned with its 1972 Summit Series and 1987 Canada Cup triumphs over the Soviets.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Go Canada I Hate Ovie

U.S. beat Canada and they will win gold

i agree

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