There’s your emphatic finish!
Size, strength and talent took over in the third period, as Iginla scored twice, completing his hat trick, Getzlaf scored twice and Heatley once. Canada finished up the game with a series of looonggg cycles in the Norwegian zone. Final score: 8-0 Canada. Shots on goal: 45-15.
Shutout for hometown hero Roberto Luongo.
*Memo to Andre Lysenstoen, the Norwegian goaltender who replaced starter Pal Grotnes: do not—repeat not—tease Dany Heatley a with quarter-acre of net on the short side.
All right everyone. You can exhale.
Canada’s first goal of the Olympics could not have been more emphatic—a pretty little feed from Crosby straight into Jarome Iginla’s wheelhouse. That broke the dam, and man, could you feel the surge of excitement in the building. Everyone on the Canadian bench looked relieved.
Canada did make some adjustments between periods. Clearly run-and-gun isn’t going to work against this hardworking Norwegian team—not until they get tired, and stop busting up passes through the middle. So Canada simplified its game, trying to generate chances by working the puck deep and getting in Grotnes’s face. Corey Perry ran him down. Bergeron did too, and got tagged with a penalty. But the message got sent. No more Mr. Nice Canuck.
Babcock is also working the lines to greater advantage. After Iginla’s goal, he sent the two out together and they generated a couple of more chances alongside Rick Nash. The three had played on the same line during a summer prep camp, but the coaches hadn’t like the result and subbed Iginla with Patrice Bergeron. They look all right now.
Meantime, the coaches have made an effective grind line of Bergeron, Toews and Richards (did I just call those guys a grind line? wow). Bergeron and Richards thanked them by combining on a goal that for intents and purposes was shorthanded, as Eric Staal was just opening the gate on the penalty box.
Babcock is clearly still experimenting. Staal, Perry and Getzlaf don’t look like much of a power-play unit. But how do you know until you try?
Stay tuned. Shots are 30-10, but they’ll want a convincing finish.
Do you think these guys might be just a little nervous?
How else to describe the plague of missed passes, wide shots and over-shot bodychecks that characterized Canada’s first period in this (what was it, Mike?) the best hockey event all time? When Crosby wheels across the crease, sending Norwegian goaltender Pal Grotnes into a pratfall, but misses the yawning cage; when Ryan Getzlaf forgets about no-touch icing and sends an end-boards pass to a streaking Eric Staal, well, there’s not much you can say. The pressure must be crushing.
The seemed to settle a bit on two late power-plays, especially when the San Jose Sharks troika of Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau got rolling.
Still, you’d have to consider this period a national triumph for Norway, even though they surrendered 14 shots and got just four on Roberto Luongo. Grotnes, a rangy 32-year-old who plays for Stjernen Fredrikstad of the I-dunno-what league, made some terrific saves, including a glove-side robbery on Crosby at the 17:32 mark.
Canada has played Norway three times in Olympic competition, winning all three times by a combined score of 29-3. Someone’s been teaching them.
“I think this could be the best hockey event of all time.”
—Canadian coach Mike Babcock, yesterday
We doubt Babcock was talking about Canada v. Norway.
But you’d think so if you were standing in Canada Hockey Place. The rumble when Team Canada took the ice for the warm-up would have put a freight train to shame—and that’s with only two thirds of the seats full. The lower half of the building is a crimson mixing bowl, plastered with folks wearing Luongo, Crosby and Niedermayer jerseys.
The Killers are playing on the sound system. They’re cheering for the horn that ended the warm-up.
Get ready, Norway. This ain’t gonna to be easy.