Canada beats U.S., 1-0, in Olympic hockey semifinals

SOCHI, Russia – The ice in front of their goals was filled with the zooming bodies of a few dozen of the fastest skaters and hardest shots in all of hockey, and their immediate air space was peppered with flying pucks. For 60 frantic minutes of play, this went on, the United States and Canada men’s hockey teams trying like mad to score past them, and Jonathan Quick and Carey Price, the respective goalies, almost uniformly shutting them down.

But a lone puck, out of the 68 fired, found its way past the pads and sticks of these two world-class goalies, and it was into Quick’s net, through no real fault of his. And so, the Canadians won another entertaining, Olympian battle between these North American rivals, 1-0, and it is Canada who will move on to play Sweden in Sunday’s gold-medal game.

The U.S. will play Finland on Saturday in the bronze-medal game.

Canada took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the second period on a beautiful give-and-go goal by Jamie Benn, who fed Jay Bouwmeester above the left face-off circle, then went towards the net, where Bouwmeester put a perfect pass on his stick. Benn deflected it past U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick, who stood no chance. Benn’s goal was only the eighth in this tournament for Canada’s forwards.

Neither Benn nor Bouwmeester (nor Price, for that matter) were on the 2010 Canadian team that beat the U.S. in the gold medal game of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

On a rink full of talented offensive forces, Price, a three-time all-star for the Montreal Canadiens, and Quick, of the Los Angeles Kings, were the best players on the ice. Price turned away numerous point-blank shots by the U.S. forwards, and there were no particularly close calls. At the other end, Quick, too, was stellar. With just under six minutes left in the game, and the Canadians continuing to attack, he stopped Chris Kunitz on a pair of point-blank tries.

Having allowed just three goals so far in this tournament, Price has compensated for the curious scoring drought of Canada’s collection of forwards, who have combined to score just eight goals of the tournament. Sidney Crosby, the great Pittsburgh Penguins center and overtime hero of the 2010 Vancouver gold-medal game, is still looking for his first goal of these Olympics.

With the Russian team out of the tournament after a quarterfinals loss to Finland, the Bolshoy Dome was strangely quiet for much of the game, with occasional chants of “U-S-A!” and “Ca-na-da!” lobbed from one corner of the building to the other, and an even more occasional chant of “Shaybu!” (“Score!”) from the apparently neutral Russian contingent.

The U.S. has never won Olympic gold outside its own borders, its two titles coming in the Squaw Valley 1960 Games and the Lake Placid 1980 Games

Updates from while the game was in progress:

Update 2:08 p.m.: The Americans pull Quick with a minute to play, but fail to generate much attack with the extra skater. Canada holds on to win, 1-0, and will play Sweden in the gold medal game on Sunday.

Update 2:06 p.m.: Canada had a near 2-on-none break, but John Carlson just made a diving play to poke the puck away. The Canadians still lead 1-0 with about 90 seconds left.

Update 2:02 p.m.: You may be feeling the excitement, but the atmosphere in the Bolshoy Ice Dome does not match the intensity on the ice.

Update 2:00 p.m.: Chris Kunitz just had a great chance for Canada on a backhand rebound attempt but couldn’t finish. Still 1-0 with less than five minutes to play.

Update 1:58 p.m.: Ryan Callahan blocks Drew Doughty’s shot from the point to help kill the penalty. It’s still 1-0 Canada with less than eight minutes to play.

Update 1:54 p.m.: Nearing the midway point of the third period, the Canadian lead remains 1-0. Phil Kessel was just called for hooking Chris Kunitz, whom Kessel seems to think took a dive. The Americans need a big penalty kill here to stay in the game.

Update 1:49 p.m.: Zach Parise had another chance for the U.S. shortly after van Riemsdyk, but Price made another save. The Americans seem to have weathered the Canadians’ rush of the first few minutes.

Update 1:47 p.m.: James van Riemsdyk had a solid chance for the Americans in close after a faceoff, but Carey Price was up for the challenge.

Update 1:45 p.m.: Canada is in control during the opening minutes of the final period, cycling the puck deep in the American zone and dominating possession.

Update 1:39 p.m.: The third period is underway. Are you like this guy?

A pretty goal by Jamie Benn has given the Canadians a 1-0 lead over the United States through two periods of their semifinal game in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

Benn, who plays for the NHL’s Dallas Stars, scored on a nifty give-and-go move at 1:41 of the second period. Benn fed Jay Bouwmeester above the left face-off circle, then went towards the net, where Bouwmeester threaded a perfect pass through traffic to his stick. Benn deflected it past U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick, who stood no chance. Benn’s goal was only the eighth in this tournament for Canada’s forwards.

The U.S. has generated multiple scoring chances in front of Canada’s goal, but goalie Carey Price was been outstanding, stopping all 22 shots he has faced thus far.

Update 1:24 p.m.: The Americans had the majority of the chances in the final minutes of the second period, but Canada will take a 1-0 lead into the final 20 minutes of regulation.

Update 1:20 p.m.: Paul Stastny got a couple of whacks at a loose puck in front of Carey Price, but the Montreal Canadiens goaltender kept it out.

Update 1:18 p.m.: The U.S. gets another power-play chance after Chris Kunitz gets called for a penalty. Would be a good time to tie things up.

Update 1:14 p.m.: Quick makes a sliding, sprawling glove save to deny Benn from the right of the crease to keep the Americans within 1-0.

Update 1:09 p.m.: Free-flowing action and more top-quality play, but still just the one goal past the midway point of the second period.

Update 1:03 p.m.: The Americans had some sustained possession on that man-advantage but couldn’t score.

Update 1:00 p.m.: The United States goes back on the power play as Patrick Kane draws a high sticking penalty against Ryan Getzlaf.

Update 12:56 p.m.: Canada takes a 1-0 lead at 1:41 of the second period. Jamie Benn redirected a shot from the blue line by Jay Bouwmeester past Jonathan Quick. There was a lot of traffic in front and little Quick could do.

Update 12:54 p.m.: The second period is underway. A lot of people are watching this game.

After 20 minutes of play at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the United States and Canada men’s hockey team are locked in a scoreless tie, and the U.S. team, which has been outplayed, has to feel especially good about that result.

After setting a frantic pace in the opening minutes, the teams traded power-play opportunities late in the period, with U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick turning away several good scoring chances by the Canadians.

The U.S. power-play try, however, was a mess, generating little heat around Canadian goalie Carey Price and even giving up a short-handed try the other way. In all, Canada led in shots on goal in the period, 16-11.

Update 12:38 p.m.: Limited opportunities for the Americans on the power play, and Quick fends off a couple of Canada chances in the waning minutes of the period. The scoreless first period ends with no shortage of action.

Update 12:33 p.m.: The U.S. will have its first power-play chance with 4:02 to play in the first period after Patrick Marleau gets called for holding.

Update 12:31 p.m.: Canada is putting the pressure on. Corey Perry was just denied on a backhand wraparound attempt.

Update 12:29 p.m.: The Americans kill off the Suter penalty, as Quick denies a Crosby rush in close and then fends off a rebound chance.

Update 12:25 p.m.: Tremendous end-to-end action so far. Both teams are constantly trading rushes and chances. Canada heads to its first power play with Ryan Suter off for holding the stick.

Update 12:20 p.m.: Click here for the game’s live summary. No goals to account for yet nearly midway through the first period.

Update 12:18 p.m.: Both goaltenders look sharp early. Quick just stopped Patrick Sharp from in close after a behind-the-back pass from Sidney Crosby.

Update 12:15 p.m.: John Carlson had the Americans’ best early chance after Phil Kessel found him for a shot at the top of the circles. But Carey Price made a tough glove save to keep the game scoreless.

Update 12:08 p.m.: The game is underway at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Jonathan Quick is in net for the U.S. against Carey Price for Canada.

Update 11:54 a.m.: The opening faceoff from Sochi is minutes away. Back stateside, Washington Capitals players are having fun with American defenseman John Carlson’s vacant locker at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. That’s a “Go Canada” piece of tape you see.

Don’t worry, though. American Connor Carrick saved the day.

One night after the United States women’s hockey team suffered a heartwrenching loss to their Canadian rivals in the gold medal game, the U.S. men’s team will try to exact a measure of revenge — as well as put itself into its own gold medal game — against Canada at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Face-off is at 9 p.m. Sochi time (noon in D.C.). The winner will face Sweden in Sunday’s gold medal game.

Since NHL players began playing in the Winter Olympics hockey tournament in 1998, the U.S. and Canada have met twice in an elimination game (2002, 2010), and Canada won both times. Most recently, the Canadians beat the Americans in the gold medal game at the Vancouver 2010 Games, on an overtime goal by Sidney Crosby.

Crosby, incidentally, is still looking for his first goal of these Games (as are Canadian stalwarts Jonathan Toews, Rick Nash and Patrice Bergeron). For Canada, this would be an opportune time for Crosby to get untracked.

One bit of pregame news: U.S. defenseman Paul Martin will be scratched, according to USA Hockey, due to illness. Justin Faulk, a 21-year-old who has yet to play in the Olympics, will be his replacement. It also means John Carlson of the Washington Capitals will move into a more prominent role on the U.S. defense.

Dave Sheinin has been covering baseball and writing features and enterprise stories for The Washington Post since 1999.
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