Canada sends Russia packing
VANCOUVER — Team Canada sent Russia packing from the Olympic men’s hockey tournament Wednesday with a stunning 7-3 victory that showed the home team is back in high gear and firing on all cylinders.
Next up comes the winner of a Sweden-Slovakia quarter-final, to be played later Wednesday. The semifinal goes Friday.
This was the kind of Canadian hockey that fans had been yearning for since executive director Steve Yzerman named his team in December — a physical, relentless attack combined with speed and skill.
After a slow start to the tournament, Yzerman calmly reassured the nation it was coming. His team delivered on the promise by dispatching Germany and Russia on back-to-back days by a combined score of 15-5.
The win over Russia was especially satisfying for another jampacked house at Canada Hockey Place. There were quite a few Russian flags among the throng of red-and-white Canadian jerseys, but many of them were packed up and put away by the time the third period started.
At that point, Canada had already chased Russian goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and built a 7-3 lead in one of the most lopsided games the teams have played in recent memory.
Canada was rampant from the get-go. There was a more physical element to the team’s game — Alex Ovechkin received a particularly rough ride early — and Ryan Getzlaf opened the scoring at 2:21, nearly getting knocked over by an exuberant Dan Boyle who did all the work on the play.
“ We were not surprised about how they were going to start,” Ovechkin said of the Canadians. “I think we were not ready for the first five minutes of the game.
“ When we woke up it was too late. It was 3-0.”
An interesting subplot heading into the game was the matchup between Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin, but it never materialized. Neither player managed to find the scoresheet and Ovechkin’s presence on the ice was virtually non-existent — as it has been off the ice during a tournament where he actively avoided doing media interviews.
Instead, some of the lesser stars took the spotlight.
Corey Perry scored twice for Canada while Getzlaf, Boyle, Rick Nash, Brenden Morrow and Shea Weber added singles. Dmitri Kalinin, Maxim Afinogenov and Sergei Gonchar replied for the overmatched Russians.
The turning point came early, just under 13 minutes into the first period. Nash darted into the Russian zone and took a beautiful backhand pass from Jonathan Toews before lifting the puck over Nabokov, giving Canada a 3-0 lead — and a dream start.
A stunned Russian bench never completely recovered even though Kalinin got them on the board shortly after coach Vyacheslav Bykov called a timeout.
When the final buzzer sounded, fans flooded out of the arena to join a massive street party.