International Ice Hockey Federation

Canada builds game, wins 3-1

Norway didn't make it easy for defending champs

Published 18.02.2014 23:37 GMT+4 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Canada builds game, wins 3-1
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Canada's John Tavares #20 shoots the puck against Norway's Lars Haugen #30 during men's preliminary round action at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Shea Weber, Jamie Benn, and Drew Doughty scored goals to pace Canada to a 3-1 win over Norway in the first game of the 2014 Olympics for both teams.

The Canadians played patient hockey, keeping a relentless pace and tenacity that eventually wore down the smaller and less-skilled foes. Shots were nearly two-to-one for Canada (38-20) and Canada dominated the faceoff circle, winning two-thirds of all puck drops.

"This was our first game together, and I thought in the second and third periods we generated a lot of chances," said captain Sidney Crosby. "We played with a lot of pace. You could see they were starting to wear down a bit. The first we were kind of testing the waters a bit."

Both teams are back in action tomorrow. Canada plays Austria at Bolshoy Ice Dome and the Norwegians are in Shayba to face Finland.

"It was tighter than we thought. We knew they were going to come out hard," said Duncan Keith. "I thought for a first game, it was good. We just kept getting better as the game went on."

Canada is now 5-0-0 all time against Norway at the Olympics with a 40-4 goals difference, including an 8-0 pasting to start the Vancouver Games four years ago.

"I think they have the best players in the world, and they’re only going to get better," said Mats Zuccarello. "I think we gave them a good game today. We battled hard, and we played for each other, blocking shots and playing the way we’re supposed to play. I think the second period, we got a little too cocky. We have to stay humble and play the same way all the time."

Although Canada was the heavy favourite coming into the game, the Norwegians played to a scoreless tie in the first period. They stood up physically to the challenge of the bigger team and played solid defence around goalie Lars Haugen.

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The Canadians were merely feeling things out, though. The speed was there but the timing, passing, and communication wasn’t where it needed to be, but these were aspects of the game the players learned quickly and improved on in the second period.

The Norwegians, who lost Mats Trygg due to a knee injury in the third period, did a great job of playing conservative hockey when the puck was in Canada’s end, and every man hustled back when play came down the other way. Canada continued to dictate the pace and play patiently, and it was eventually rewarded at 6:20 of the middle period.

After a great individual effort by Jamie Benn to draw a penalty on a wraparound, Shea Weber fired a point shot that found the back of the net with Carey Price on the bench for a sixth attacker.

The goal ignited Canada, and most of the rest of the period was played in Norway’s end. The Canadians moved the puck with sharp, crisp passes, and one great sequence resulted in the 2-0 goal at 15:19.

Defenceman Drew Doughty rifled a pass up the right side to Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron moved into the Norway end and found Jamie Benn in the slot, and Benn connected with a nice wrist shot to Haugen’s short side.

It took only 22 seconds into the third period for Price to make a bad play and allow Norway to get right back into the game. He was too casual in leaving the puck behind the net for defenceman Alex Pietrangelo, and Mathis Olimb easily stole the puck, swooped around and took a shot from the top of the circle that went under Price's glove off Patrick Thoresen in front.

"Olimb picked it up," Thoresen related. "I thought he was going to play it to me right away because Price was out of the net. But he kept it. I figured I’d just go to the net and see what happens. He shot it and it tipped in off my glove."

Canada atoned for the gaffe at 1:47, though, when Doughty came in off the point, took a pass, and deked Haugen to make it 3-1. It was the second goal by blueliners on the night and came from the player who had the most ice time among Canadians, 20:41.

"I think the angles are different when you’re coming down the wing and shooting," said Patrick Sharp. "It changes power plays, it changes penalty kills. It’s a different game in general. We’re enjoying the challenge of playing on it and I thought we did pretty well for a first game."