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Weber's Late Goal Helps Canada Survive Latvia Scare

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 11:39 AM PT / News
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Weber\'s Late Goal Helps Canada Survive Latvia Scare
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By Arpon Basu | NHL.com

SOCHI -- Hours after the host Russians lost on the same ice surface, Canada survived a scare at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Wednesday.

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber scored a power play goal on Canada's 54th shot of the game to break a 1-1 tie at 13:06 of the third period and give Canada a 2-1 win against Latvia in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The game was a showcase for Latvian goaltender and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Kristers Gudlevskis, who not only turned aside 55 Canadian shots but had to remain alert with the puck in the Latvia zone for long stretches of the game.

Canada opened the scoring at 13:37 of the first on Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp's first of the tournament, but Latvia answered with a beautiful breakaway goal by Lauris Darzins at 15:41.

From that point on the Canadian assault on the Latvian net began, but Gudlevskis consistently refused to budge.

While the victory may have been a relief for Canada, there was a price to pay.

New York Islanders center John Tavares left the game in the second period with an injury after he took a hard hit from Latvia defenseman Arturs Kulda and struggled to get back to the bench before eventually leaving for the dressing room.

He did not come out for the third period.

As Canada has done in each of its games here it allowed a few quality chances in the first few shifts. But it was Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz that had the best ones before the game was five minutes old when Kunitz sprung Crosby for a breakaway that was stopped by Gudlevskis and then Crosby set up Kunitz with a wide-open net but he hit the post.

It didn't seem at the time either play would be important. But as the game moved into the third period tied, even though Canada was ahead in shots 35-11, there was a sense the two early missed chances could become very significant.

Sharp opened the scoring on a nice play by Rick Nash behind the net as Nash set Sharp up for a one-timer into a largely empty net.

But the Latvians struck back, led by their captain Sandis Ozolinsh, who found Darzins alone behind the Canadian defense pair of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester from the St. Louis Blues. Darzins, a former teammate of Weber's with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, beat Canadian goaltender Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens with a move worthy of a star NHL player.

Darzins faked a shot, moved to his backhand and lifted one right under the crossbar for his fourth goal of the tournament.

Gudlevskis kept his team in it, but it looked as if Canada finally got one past him at 8:27 of the third period.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews grabbed a rebound of a Drew Doughty shot and shoveled it toward the crease. It looked as though the puck squeaked through and was heading over the goal line when Latvia defenseman Kristaps Sotnieks swiped it away with his glove.

The play was called no goal on the ice and it withstood a video review to keep the game tied 1-1.

Less than five minutes later Weber scored his third of the tournament on a slap shot.

It gave Canada a 2-1 lead.

And a pulse.

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 77 13 50 14 63
C. Perry 82 34 28 2 62
R. Kesler 79 21 32 5 53
R. Rakell 72 20 23 -1 43
J. Silfverberg 82 20 19 8 39
S. Vatanen 71 9 29 8 38
A. Cogliano 82 9 23 2 32
H. Lindholm 80 10 18 7 28
C. Fowler 69 5 23 -8 28
C. Stewart 56 8 12 2 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 22 9 7 .919 2.30
J. Gibson 21 13 4 .920 2.07

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