Slovakia put up one hell of a fight but in the end fell just short in a 3-2 Canada win. Canada jumped out to an early start thanks to goals from Patrick Marleau and Brendan Morrow, not even two minutes apart. For most of the second period it remained scoreless, but Canada had the obvious upper hand in terms of shots, puck possession and defensive traps. It wasn't until the final three minutes ticked down that Ryan Getzlaf made it 3-0 in what seemed like the final nail in the coffin.
By the 10 minute mark of the third, Canadian fans started their Go Canada Go chants and "We Want U-S-A." But many were stunned when Lubomir Visnovsky cut the Canada lead to two. While still a healthy lead, I think the confidence was more based on how much control Canada had throughout the entire game. At times it looked like Slovakia couldn't get anything going. Luongo was, of course, playing well in net, but he only faced 21 shots at game's end. I suppose that was enough to go on to think that this one was in the bag.
But lo and behold, not long after Visnovsky pulled Slovakia within two, Michael Handzus made it a one-goal game. Suddenly, Canada wasn't sitting so comfortable.
At this point Slovakia went into desperation mode. Heaves at the net, bodychecks to keep the puck in, some sleek passing to set up great scoring opportunites - you name it. The best chance Slovakia received came with less than 10 seconds to go, nearly right in front of Luongo. I don't remember who had the puck on his stick, but the shot was in a great position with a sliding Luongo way out of position, only it went wide left and ultimately brought the game to an end.
The game was great to watch, but now the outcome of this sets the stage for an even greater rematch. USA and Canada will meet again Sunday night, this time for gold. Canadian fans are already addressing the last game as "practice," while US fans (myself included) are confident n USA's abilities. I will say this though: Canada looks like a totally different team with Luongo in net. I wouldn't say they felt less confident in Brodeur because, well, his resume speaks for itself. But they just seem like a more efficient and well put-together team with Luongo in net than with Marty. I'm sure Canadian fans would be better suited to address the differences than I.
If you haven't watched a single olympic game this entire run, Sunday's game is not the one you want to miss. So mark your calendars for 3:15 EST and get ready to see one of the two take home the gold.