It was one of the most anticipated games of the entire year, and a game billed as a Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin battle; but neither made much impact on the war. Canada roared out of the gates and easily overwhelmed goalie Evgeni Nabokov and Team Russia by a score of 7-3.
Ryan Getzlaf opened the scoring just 2 and a half minutes into the game to bring Canada out of the gates strong, then Dan Boyle (much maligned on his selection over Mike Green) strongly brought the puck into the zone and ended up scoring to make it 2-0 on the power play. Rick Nash blew by Ovechkin in the neutal zone and took advantage of a great pass from Jonathan Toews to make it 3-0 shortly after the Boyle goal. The floodgates were opened and there was no stopping the boys from the Great White North.
Defenseman Dmitri Kalinin would score from the point on a heavily screened Roberto Luongo to bring the Russians back to 3-1, but Brendan Morrow would score before the first period was out to make it 4-1 Canada and remove pretty much all of the drama.
Canada wouldn't let off the gas, scoring two more goals in the first 4:07 of the second period, one from Corey Perry and another from Shea Weber (on a questionable backcheck from Ovechkin). Finally the Russians would relieve Nabokov at this point, but it was too little too late. Russia would show a little life, Max Afinogenov and the Penguins own Sergei Gonchar scored goals sandwiched between another Perry goal to close out the scoring, all of it in the second period.
- Crosby drew a penalty that led to Boyle's PP goal, he made a few nice passes and won some faceoffs, but he was largely a non-factor. Considering the immense depth and talent of the Canadian roster, this was hardly a blip on the radar in their big night.
- Ovechkin might get killed for his play on the two goals, but he wasn't an offensive threat either. The Canadians seemed to either always have the puck, or always got in a position to attack the Russian defensemen before they could get it up to the forwards like Ovechkin. Hard for an individual to stand out when his team is so clearly overmatched.
- In show of the dominance: Canada poured 42 shots on goal, including an eye popping 21 in the first period. They came out of the gates with something to prove, and to a man they looked inspired and dangerous....The Russians looked pensive and on their heels until it was too late.
- Evgeni Malkin fed a routine pass to Gonchar for the final Russian goal, but Geno looked out of sorts as well. He couldn't get anything going and a turnover in the offensive zone was quickly transitioned by the superior Canadian team to a goal. Definitely a disappointing outing and ending for the reigning scoring champ and playoff MVP.
- The question remains, will this fire Malkin (and Gonchar) up? Or will they sink away and slump through the rest of the season? All players are proud to play for their homelands but the Russians -- so far away from their own homes -- seem arguably the most proud. Hopefully this disappointment will fuel Malkin for the stretch run, much like his disappointing 2008 Stanley Cup final gave him motivation for the '09 playoffs.
- Shea Weber scored another goal, threw more hits and did a good job keeping Ovechkin in check. Most observers in the East don't get to see Weber too much, but he's becoming one of the breakout shining stars of the Olympics on the big stage. It probably only took eyeballs on him to realize he's one of the best defensemen in the game right now, but yeah, point noted Mr. Weber.
- San Jose fans have to be a little unsettled by Nabokov's night, don't they? Nabokov was left in the fire for far too long, especially considering how his team in front of him was playing, but to see him get burned so frequently can't leave a good taste in people's mouths when they've watch SJ falter time and time again in the NHL's second season.
In the end it was way too much Canada. They were faster, made better decisions, got more chances and capitialized when it counted. They move on to the semi-finals in what must be a supremely confident state. If they can match their own desire from this night two more times, it's difficult to imagine anyone denying them of the gold. But that's why they play the games, and in this tournament of twists, turns and close calls, no one's just going to roll over and give it up.