SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21: Jamie Benn #22 of Canada celebrates scoring a second-period goal against the United States with teammates Jay Bouwmeester #19, Corey Perry #24 and Ryan Getzlaf #15 during the Men's Ice Hockey Semifinal Playoff on Day 14 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 21, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
If there was any criticism of the way that Canada had played during the Sochi Olympics, it was erased on Friday as they played a dominant game against Team USA in a 1-0 shutout victory to reach the gold medal game.
Carey Price made 30 saves in the shutout victory, while Jamie Benn scored the game's lone goal in the second period. Jonathan Quick made 36 saves in a tremendous effort for the Americans, but it wasn't enough as the U.S. will have to settle for the bronze medal game against Finland on Saturday.
The game started out with a fairly high pace, with both teams trying to feel one another out while still aggressively seeking scoring opportunities. Phil Kessel got the first good chance of the game, but he was stopped by Carey Price. Patrice Bergeron and Drew Doughty both picked up chances for the Canadians a short time later, but Jonathan Quick was up to the task.
As the period wore on, both teams continued to exchange scoring opportunities, but the goaltenders maintained their shutouts. Jeff Carter got two chances in a row from near the goal line, but Quick was able to make a series of scrambling saves. Kessel dropped a pass back to John Carlson at the offensive blue line for the USA, but his shot was gloved down by Price to keep the game scoreless.
In the late stages of the frame, both teams picked up power plays, but neither side was able to put the puck in the net. Sidney Crosby got a breakaway attempt for Canada, but Quick squared him up and stopped the attempt. The U.S. wasn’t able to get much going against the aggressive forecheck that the Canadians employed on their power play, and the two sides headed to intermission with the score 0-0.
As the second period got underway, the Canadians’ consistency finally yielded dividends, and they got on the board first. Jamie Benn worked his way through the offensive zone, and he found Jay Bouwmeester out at the point. Bouwmeester waited for Benn to get through the slot to the netfront, and when the St. Louis Blues defenseman fired in a shot-pass, Benn was able to redirect it past Quick to make it 1-0 Canada.
A short time later, the Americans got a power play when Ryan Getzlaf picked up a high-sticking penalty against Kane, but Team USA only got a few good chances to score. The best one came on a patient Kane pass across the zone to Zach Parise, but Price was up to the task as he shouldered the puck away from the net and maintained the Canadian lead.
After that power play, the Canadians strengthened their grip on the game. Benn made yet another great rush to the net, and Quick was able to slide across and stop the shot. Then Alex Pietrangelo wound up from the point and blasted a shot on Quick, who struggled to push it away.
A late penalty to Chris Kunitz gave the Americans another chance on the power play, but they weren’t able to get any good opportunities, and Canada went into the second intermission just 20 minutes away from another trip to the gold medal game.
Throughout the first half of the period, the Canadian side was the dominant one on both sides of the ice. Their forecheck prevented the United States from getting anything going in their offensive zone, and on offense, the Canadians were just as potent. Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews each picked up some glorious scoring chances, and it was only Quick’s excellent play that kept the Americans within reach.
Canada received a power play around the midpoint of the period as Kessel was sent off on a hooking infraction, but Ryan Callahan stepped up in a big way for the Americans, blocking two shots with his legs and breaking his stick on another attempt to help Quick and company keep the deficit at just one goal.
In the later stages of the frame, both teams got their own share of opportunities, with Canada still getting the majority of the chances. Kunitz was denied on two successive shot attempts against Quick, with the Kings’ goaltender stopping the first shot then watching helplessly as a deflected shot floated over the top of the net. Kane also got another chance at the American end, but Price once again slammed the door.