Canada hangs on for 3-2 win, will play for Olympic gold
VANCOUVER (CP) — It was close, but Team Canada gets to go for gold at the Vancouver Olympics.
Ryan Getzlaf scored a goal and set up another as the Canadian men took a lead and then survived a wild third-period comeback to defeat Slovakia 3-2 in semifinal action Friday night.
Canada, looking to avenge a 5-3 loss in round-robin play, will take on the United States in an all-North American final Sunday in the first Olympic tournament played on an NHL-size rink. The U.S. trounced Finland 6-1 earlier Friday.
The same teams met in the final of the last Winter Games held in North America in 2002 in Salt Lake City, where Canada prevailed 5-2.
”It gives us an opportunity to do something we didn’t do last time,” U.S. defenceman Brian Rafalski said of the Salt Lake defeat.
Patrick Marleau and Brenden Morrow also scored for Canada in a game they dominated at both ends of the ice for two periods against a Slovak team that kept the score down by staying back and building a defensive wall in front of goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Canada outshot Slovakia 2821.
The Slovaks opened up their attack and made it a game in the third as Lubomir Visnovsky caught goaltender Roberto Luongo napping for a goal and Michal Handzus cut the lead to 3-2 with 4:53 left to play.
Visnovsky scored unassisted at 11:35 of the third when Luongo failed to cover his post as the Slovak defenceman backhanded the puck from a tight angle. It was only Slovakia’s 13th shot of the game.
Then Richard Zednik won a battle for the puck with Drew Doughty, wheeled in front for a shot and saw Handzus score on the rebound.
Until then, it looked like it would be a routine win for Canada, which started nervously but by five minutes in were controlling the play.
Slovakia, playing for a medal for the first time at an Olympics, will meet Finland for bronze today.