Canada sends Rus­sia pack­ing

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY CHRIS JOHNSTON

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.

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