After a bit of a sluggish effort against Norway on Thursday, Team Canada bounced back in a big way Friday, riding the momentum of a Jeff Carter hat trick to an easy 6-0 win over Austria in Pool B play in Sochi.
Shea Weber and Drew Doughty both picked up their second goal in as many games for the Canadians, and Ryan Getzlaf also picked up a tally as Canada went to 2-0 in the tournament. Roberto Luongo made 23 saves en route to a shutout victory for the Canadians.
Austria came out of the gate early on looking to make their physical presence felt in the neutral zone, and for the first five minutes of the game, that’s exactly what they did. Canada had trouble moving the puck through that area, and as a result the Austrians were dominating in the shot totals in the early going.
It didn’t take long for Canada to settle into their rhythm, and a little over five minutes into the game they grabbed an early lead. Jonathan Toews won an offensive zone faceoff, and as the puck went back to the point, Doughty pinched in from the blue line and one-timed a nifty shot that somehow evaded all sorts of traffic and got past Bernhard Starkbaum to give Canada a 1-0 lead.
After that goal, it seemed as though the ice tilted in Canada’s favor. They racked up chance after chance, and when Corey Perry found Weber with a drop pass inside the offensive zone, the Nashville Predators’ defenseman didn’t miss, blasting a slapshot over Starkbaum that went into the net so hard that it ricocheted out and caused many fans to not even realize that the goal had counted. It did, and Canada’s 2-0 lead was secure as the first period came to an end.
Early on in the second period, the Canadians had to kill off a Carter penalty, and they got some great efforts from players like Toews and Bergeron in doing so. As soon as Carter came out of the box, he immediately jumped into the play and got to the front of the net. When Patrick Marleau’s shot went off the post in front, Carter was there to tap in the rebound and extend the Canadian advantage to three goals.
Just a few minutes later, Marleau and Carter teamed up again. This time, Marleau went behind the net on the forecheck and won an easy puck battle, then back-passed it along the boards to Carter. Carter then made a lightning quick move and scored a nifty wraparound goal between Starkbaum’s legs to make it a 4-0 game.
Carter wasn’t done yet, and he picked up his natural hat trick a few minutes later. Toews made a nice play to cycle the puck along the boards, and it eventually found its way onto the stick of Marleau. His shot ended up getting stopped in front, and Weber also took a crack at the goal, but to no avail. Once again though, Carter somehow managed to get his stick on the puck in the sea of skates and ended up wristing the puck into the net to give his team a commanding 5-0 lead.
The Austrians did get a good chance late in the second period with a four minute power play thanks to a John Tavares double minor penalty, but Luongo was up to the task in making a couple of big saves. On a clear late in the period, Getzlaf caught up to the puck in the neutral zone, and with Carter rushing the net on the far side, Getzlaf sliced through traffic and backhanded the puck into the net to stretch the lead even further to 6-0.
In the third period, both teams had their fair share of opportunities, but both goaltenders were more than up to the task. Luongo made a couple of nice saves of his own, but the real star of the frame was Mathias Lange was the real star, coming in relief of Starkbaum and making a slew of big saves to keep the score respectable and keep his team from falling further behind in goal differential.
After the relatively easy victory, the Canadians will face a much sterner test against Finland on Sunday in Sochi. The game, which will start at 11am Central and can be seen on USA Network, will determine the winner of the pool, and the automatic quarterfinal berth that comes along with it.