x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Canada beat Sweden 3-0 to secure men’s ice hockey gold

Nicklas Backstrom was scratched shortly before game time. Swedish Olympic officials said Backstrom had a positive drug test – the sixth of the games – because of an allergy medicine.

Canada's players celebrate after winning the men's ice hockey final against Sweden at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014. Alexander Nemenov / AFP
Canada's players celebrate after winning the men's ice hockey final against Sweden at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014. Alexander Nemenov / AFP

SOCHI, Russia // Sidney Crosby skated in alone on Henrik Lundqvist, faking Sweden’s goalie to the ice with a textbook-quality decoy move and sliding a perfect backhanded shot into the net.

Canada did everything by the book at the Sochi Olympics, winning all six games with a ferocious commitment to defence and discipline. When Canada’s captain finally got his first goal of the games yesterday, it had none of the dramatics of Crosby’s last Olympic goal four years ago in Vancouver.

But it was every bit as golden.

Jonathan Toews scored in the first period, Carey Price made 24 saves in posting a second consecutive shutout and Canada defended their Olympic men’s hockey title with a 3-0 victory over Sweden.

“We’re just an amazing team to watch, the way we work together,” Toews said. “We were just all over them. It’s fun to be a part of.”

Chris Kunitz also scored as the Canadians confirmed their worldwide dominance in their national game by winning gold for the third time in the last four Olympics. No team in the NHL era has controlled a tournament like this group, who allowed three goals in six games and never trailed at any point in the 12-day tournament.

“Not quite as dramatic as the other one,” Crosby said. “Just real solid all the way through. We knew the way we wanted to play, and the last couple of games, we were solid. With each game, we seemed to build more and more confidence.”

By the final event of the Sochi Olympics, that confidence was unshakable. Canada became the only repeat Olympic champion in the NHL era and the first team to go unbeaten through the Olympic tournament since the Soviet Union in Sarajevo in 1984.

Canada won a record ninth Olympic hockey gold – their first outside North America since 1952 – and joined the women’s team to complete Canada’s second straight Olympic hockey sweep.

The Canadians did not allow a goal in their final 164-plus minutes at the Bolshoy Ice Dome after the first period of the quarter-finals against Latvia, shutting out the US and Sweden.

Steve Yzerman, the architect of this roster for Hockey Canada, called it the greatest display of defensive hockey by any Canadian national team. Yzerman also said he is stepping down as Canada’s Olympic executive director.

“That was the hardest-working team I’ve ever seen,” Price said. “I really can’t say enough about that group of defensemen and that overall team in front of me. Our work ethic was what won us this championship.”

While Canada got goals from its two best centres, Sweden had to play without its top three centres. With Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg already out for the tournament, Nicklas Backstrom was scratched shortly before game time. Swedish Olympic officials said Backstrom had a positive drug test – the sixth of the games – because of an allergy medicine.

“They had a good game plan against us, and they stuck to it,” Sweden defenceman Erik Karlsson said. “We couldn’t really break through a brick wall.”

sports@thenational.ae