Canada Starts Slow, Defeats Norway 3-1 in Opener

Thursday, 02.13.2014 / 1:01 PM / News
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Canada Starts Slow, Defeats Norway 3-1 in Opener
SOCHI -- All of the gold-medal contenders have opened the 2014 Sochi Olympics with a victory, but the two that played Thursday at Bolshoy Ice Dome had more trouble than expected.
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By Corey Masisak | NHL.com

SOCHI -- All of the gold-medal contenders have opened the 2014 Sochi Olympics with a victory, but the two that played Thursday at Bolshoy Ice Dome had more trouble than expected.

A few hours after Russia struggled to put away Slovenia, Canada defeated Norway 3-1 in Group B on goals from Shea Weber, Jamie Benn and Drew Doughty.

"I thought in the second and third [periods] we were really good," Canada captain Sidney Crosby said. "[It] took us a period to really get our feet under us. I think that is normal when you throw a bunch of guys together. I think getting our speed and figuring it out was important. I think we played at a really high pace, and I thought we did a really good job of that in the second and the third and hopefully that is something that will get better."

It was a victory with flaws for Canada, which looked disjointed at times. Eventually the Canadians started to dominate, but even then the Norwegians had a power play in the final two minutes and were down two goals.

For Norway, a country that has qualified for the Olympics nine previous times and never finished higher than ninth, keeping the game close against a traditional power qualified as a success.

"We got pushed back into the defensive zone throughout the second and third period, and that kind of emptied our tank there, but we kept the score low," Norway forward Patrick Thoresen said. "[It is] a little bit too bad that they got the 3-1 goal so early after we reduced the score to 2-1. Maybe we could have shaken them a little more in the end, but obviously they're the best team in the world so we have to be a little bit satisfied, too, even if it hurts to lose."

It took a little more than 26 minutes before Weber, the Nashville Predators captain, put Canada in front with a blast from the left point. After Weber's goal, the Canadians began to exert their might on the Norwegians.

Benn, the Dallas Stars captain, made it 2-0 at 15:19. Patrice Bergeron sent a pass from the right wall to Benn, who snapped a shot in off the left post while off balance. Benn had been on the receiving end of a big open-ice hit from Norway captain Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, who delivered several crunching blows and spearheaded a physical approach against the bigger, faster Canadians.

Bergeron had two assists as coach Mike Babcock rotated him, Benn, John Tavares and Martin St. Louis on Canada's fourth line. St. Louis earned shifts on other lines to find ice time as the 13th forward.

"They were outstanding," Babcock said of the fourth liners. "Two played on the power play, two played on the penalty kill, and then they filled in all over the place. I thought they were really good and were one of our better lines, to tell you the truth. I thought Bergeron had a real strong game, Tavares had a real strong game, Benn was moving, and St. Louis played all over. Those four guys, for me, played well."

Norway did not have a shot on goal in the first 18 minutes of the second period. At one point the Norwegians were called for icing on three consecutive stoppages. They finished the period with two shots on goal, but one effectively was a dump-in and the other rolled off a player's stick to Canada goaltender Carey Price.

"It's being really focused on the details," Canada forward Jonathan Toews said. "But for the most part we've got to trust our instincts and make plays when we know they are there. We just have to have patience and confidence with the puck.

"It was fun. You could see us loosen up as the game went on. We're just going to keep on getting better."

The Canadians were unable to put the Norwegians away, and Thoresen cut the lead to 2-1 22 seconds into the third period. Price was unable to come up with the puck behind his net with Norway on the power play. Mathis Olimb snared it, skated into position, and Thoresen deflected his shot.

Canada did not need long to answer. Doughty split two Norwegian forwards, skated into the slot, and backhanded a shot into the top left corner at 1:47 of the third.

"[Doughty] was telling us that was the first ever backhand goal of his life," Babcock said. "I don't know if I buy that."

There were some nervy times early for Canada. Norway was able to keep Canada scoreless in the first period when the Canadians failed to generate much time in the offensive zone, let alone quality scoring chances. Lars Haugen stopped all nine shots he faced for Norway in the first.

Just like Russia in a 5-2 victory earlier in the day, Canada not only was expected to win, but do so convincingly. Babcock and his players said they were not concerned about style points, though goal differential can play a role in seeding later in the tournament.

"What am I going to say? I mean, you can watch the game and everyone's going to have their own opinion," Crosby said when asked about possible criticism for not winning by enough. "I thought we generated a lot of good chances. I thought we could've had more goals. I thought their goalie did some good things. But they play good as a team and every team here is here for a reason. There's a lot of good teams here and we respect them, and we don't expect games like that."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 31 56 28 87
C. Perry 81 43 39 32 82
N. Bonino 77 22 27 14 49
M. Perreault 69 18 25 13 43
A. Cogliano 82 21 21 13 42
C. Fowler 70 6 30 15 36
K. Palmieri 71 14 17 9 31
D. Winnik 76 6 24 6 30
H. Lindholm 78 6 24 29 30
S. Koivu 65 11 18 3 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 20 5 0 .923 2.29
J. Hiller 29 13 7 .911 2.48

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