As was the case in Turin four years earlier, historical hockey rivals CANADA and RUSSIA were drawn to meet in the quarterfinal round at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
The results this time around were quite different, indeed, if not downright shocking. In fact, by the time Canadian defenseman SHEA WEBER of the Nashville Predators had scored to open up a 6-1 lead four minutes into the second period, all this author had to say about the proceedings in Vancover was — Oh! Canada!
RYAN GETZLAFF of the Anaheim Ducks triggered the offensive outburst with a goal for Canada just two and a half minutes into the game. San Jose Sharks rearguard DAN BOYLE, with a rush down the left that started in his own defensive zone, provided the crossing pass which left Getzlaff a gaping net to shoot at.
Ten minutes later, with the man-advantage, Boyle circled in his own end to start a Canadian play which culminated with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle by the San Jose defender that beat his National Hockey League teammate, Russian goaltender EVGENY NABOKOV, to double Canada’s lead.
Less than sixty seconds following Boyle’s goal, RICK NASH of the Columbus Blue Jackets changed the scoreboard to show 3-0 for Canada with not even thirteen minutes of the match played.
Canada’s JONATHAN TOEWS of the Chicago Black Hawks and Philadelphia Flyers forward MIKE RICHARDS combined to strip Pittsburgh Penquins star forward EVGENY MALKIN of the puck at the Russian point. A smart pass from Richards sent Toews off on the counter, allowing the streaking Nash to put a puck over the stacked pads of Nabokov.
Russia did attempt to revive themselves shortly thereafter. Defenseman DMITRI KALININ of Salavat Yulayev Ufa connected with a wrist shot from the left point past Canada’s starting goaltender, ROBERTO LUONGO of the Olympic host city’s Vancouver Canucks, roughly fourteen and a half minutes in. For Kalinin, the score was the product of what would be the Russian rearguard’s only official shot-on-goal the whole of the 2010 Winter Games tournament.
But, whatever momentum Russia may have gained was lost on account of Canada’s BRENDEN MORROW with under two minutes to go in the opening period. At equal strength, the Dallas Stars forward secured a puck from Boyle along the boards behind the goalline and promptly skated out in front unchallenged. A backhander underneath Nabokov gave Canada a commanding 4-1 lead.
The situation did not improve for Russia to start the second period. Three minutes after the intermission break, Canada became the beneficiaries of good fortune when COREY PERRY of the Anaheim Ducks found himself with the puck and a wide open net. Perry’s NHL teammate, Getzlaff, had gotten his wrist shot on the rush into the offensive zone deflected by Russian defenseman ILYA NIKULIN of Ak Bars Kazan with Nabokov out to cut the angle.
Canada’s goal from Weber less than sixty seconds after Perry scored finally sent the San Jose Sharks goaltender to the showers for Russia. For Nabokov, the six goals allowed (on 23 shots) in twenty-four minutes at Vancouver stood in stark contrast to the shutout the 34-year-old had served up for Russia against Canada four years earlier in Italy. And so, Phoenix Coyotes goaltender ILYA BRYZGALOV was sent out by Russian coach VYACHESLAV BYKOV.
A quick goal from MAXIM AFINOGENOV of the Atlanta Thrashers might have augmented any criticism of a belated decision by Bykov, but a second goal from Perry nine minutes into the second period certainly confirmed Canadian overall superiority on the night at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver.
CANADA 7 – RUSSIA 3
Shots-on-goal : Canada 42 – Russia 28
CAN goals : Perry 2, Getzlaff, Boyle, Nash, Morrow, Weber
RUS goals: Kalinin, Afinogenov, Gonchar
Morrow does not make out as well as Volchenkov and heads for the ice surface at Canada Hockey Place in Vancouver. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
to be continued…