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Hockey superpowers collide in huge quarterfinal game

Wednesday, 02.24.2010 / 4:30 PM

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

No. 6 CANADA (2-1-0-1, 8 points) vs. No. 3 RUSSIA (2-0-1-0, 7 points) 


NOTE: records are presented as three-point wins (regulation time), two-point wins (OT or shootout), one-point losses (OT or shootout), zero-point losses (regulation time). 


What to watch --  Let's see … the two most skilled teams in the tournament, the two tournament favorites, fighting to survive and still have a chance at a medal. Think there might be some jump in the skates for this one?  

"It's going to be a pretty big game for both countries, for both teams," said Russia forward Alex Ovechkin. "But it's going to be a pretty fun game, too."  

Russia seemed to find its line chemistry in Sunday's 4-2 win against the Czech Republic. Barring any changes, Evgeni Malkin will center a line with Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, with a second line Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Maxim Afinogenov.  

"A great moment for me (and) for him and for our team, too," Ovechkin said of skating alongside Malkin. "But I think it was the most important thing that we win the game. We take one extra day off for us. We just take more time and space to work out and be ready for next game."  

Canada won't have much time to rest, coming back one day after routing Germany, 8-2.  

Goalie Roberto Luongo rose to the occasion in his first elimination game since he gave up seven goals to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Tuesday he stopped 21 of 23 shots and gave no reason for coach Mike Babcock to reconsider his choice of goaltenders.  
   
"I think it's normal to be nervous," he said immediately after the game. "Big game, big stage, I think it's normal to be nervous, but I think it's good, you get more adrenaline pumping in the veins."


Last game --  Canada defeated Germany, 8-2, in the qualification round Tuesday; Russia beat the Czech Republic, 4-2, on Sunday in their final preliminary round game.


Team Reports:



Russia --  With Russia among the pre-tournament favorites, much was made of this being Russia's chance to avenge the 1972 Summit Series, when Canada clinched the series with a victory in Moscow.
   
Russia beat Canada to win the World Championships in 2008, but that wasn't a best-on-best competition like the Olympics.  
   
While this game won't win anybody a medal, you can't help but think the Russian players are licking their chops at the thought of ruining Canada's home-ice Olympic coronation.  
   
"No doubt, they (Canada) would be very motivated playing on home ice and also gunning for revenge," said Ovechkin, referring to the '08 Worlds, as well as last spring, when Russia beat Canada for the gold. "But we'll be just as hungry as them."

Canada --  It took four games, but it finally seems like Canada coach Mike Babcock has found line combinations that worked. In the 8-2 win against Germany on Tuesday, each line had a goal, led by the line of Sidney Crosby-Jarome Iginla-Eric Staal, which combined for 3 goals, with two of them by Iginla.  
   
"We're feeling better going off a win, but also (it's) more time together," Iginla told NHL.com. "We've come together pretty quickly and it is better than a practice. You know you don't want to play (this game) and you know you need to win it; but, at the same time, once you are in it, it's more time for line combinations, more time for power play, penalty kill. Just get used to also playing elimination games; that's a Game 7. I thought tonight we handled that early. We came out and had our best start of the tournament. All of our legs were going."  
   
The Sharks line, the trio of Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf-Rick Nash, and the threesome of Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews and Brenden Morrow each had a goal.
   
The breakout for Iginla especially was good to see. The Calgary Flames captain had 3 goals on five shots in the tournament opener against Norway, but then had just two shots in the next two games.
   
Nash also got on the scoreboard for the first time in the Olympics. After playing the first three games on Crosby's wing, the move to Getzlaf's side seemed to reinvigorate him; the pair was dominant at last year's World Championships.  
   
Now the goal is to keep that momentum going on short rest against the arch-rival Russians.

Total NHL players on rosters:  Russia 14; Canada 23. 


Puck Drop --  Iginla said the focus already has shifted to Russia. "We're looking forward to it," he said. "We know our country is and we are as players. There's history there. There's rivalries there; World Juniors and up, everybody has played against them and we are really looking forward to it and happy we have the opportunity. You know, whether it was the finals, semis, quarters, you have to play all good teams to win it and we play them now."


NHL.com predicts:  Has Canada found itself? The players certainly got a fanbase desperate to cheer for it going again. Canada rides that emotion to a fast start, and holds on for a wild 6-5 victory.
  
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com.

Canada
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
22 J. Benn DAL 6'2" 210 7/18/1989 Victoria, BC
37 P. Bergeron BOS 6'2" 194 7/24/1985 Ancienne-Lorette, QC
77 J. Carter LAK 6'4" 212 1/1/1985 London, ON
87 S. Crosby PIT 5'11" 200 8/7/1987 Cole Harbour, NS
9 M. Duchene COL 5'11" 200 1/16/1991 Haliburton, ON
15 R. Getzlaf ANA 6'4" 221 5/1/1985 Regina, SK
14 C. Kunitz PIT 6'0" 195 9/16/1979 Regina, SK
12 P. Marleau SJS 6'2" 220 9/15/1979 Aneroid, SK
61 R. Nash NYR 6'4" 213 6/16/1984 Brampton, ON
24 C. Perry ANA 6'3" 212 5/16/1985 Peterborough, ON
10 P. Sharp CHI 6'1" 199 12/27/1981 Winnipeg, MB
26 M. St. Louis TBL 5'8" 180 6/18/1975 Laval, QC
20 J. Tavares NYI 6'1" 205 9/20/1990 Mississauga, ON
16 J. Toews CHI 6'2" 208 4/29/1988 Winnipeg, MB
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
19 J. Bouwmeester STL 6'4" 212 9/27/1983 Edmonton, AB
8 D. Doughty LAK 6'1" 213 12/8/1989 London, ON
5 D. Hamhuis VAN 6'1" 209 12/13/1982 Smithers, BC
2 D. Keith CHI 6'1" 200 7/16/1983 Winnpeg, MB
27 A. Pietrangelo STL 6'3" 201 1/18/1990 King City, ON
76 P. Subban MTL 6'0" 217 5/13/1989 Toronto, ON
44 M. Vlasic SJS 6'1" 205 5/30/1987 Montreal, QC
6 S. Weber NSH 6'4" 233 8/14/1985 Sicamous, BC
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
1 R. Luongo VAN 6'3" 217 4/4/1979 Montreal, QC
31 C. Price MTL 6'3" 212 8/16/1987 Anahim Lake, BC
41 M. Smith PHX 6'4" 215 3/22/1982 Kingston, ON
Russia
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
42 A. Anisimov CBJ 6'4" 198 5/24/1988 Yaroslavl, RUS
13 P. Datsyuk DET 5'11" 198 7/20/1978 Sverdlovsk, RUS
71 I. Kovalchuk 6'3" 230 4/15/1983 Tver, RUS
41 N. Kulemin TOR 6'1" 225 7/14/1986 Magnitogorsk, RUS
11 E. Malkin PIT 6'3" 195 7/31/1986 Magnitogorsk, RUS
43 V. Nichushkin DAL 6'4" 205 3/4/1995 Chelyabinsk, RUS
8 A. Ovechkin WSH 6'3" 230 9/17/1985 Moscow, RUS
24 A. Popov 5'10" 181 8/31/1980 Angarsk, RUS
47 A. Radulov 6'1" 200 7/5/1986 Nizhny Tagil, RUS
28 A. Semin CAR 6'2" 209 3/3/1984 Krasnojarsk, RUS
15 A. Svitov 6'4" 234 11/3/1982 Omsk, RUS
91 V. Tarasenko STL 6'0" 219 12/13/1991 Yaroslavl, RUS
27 A. Tereschenko 5'11" 176 12/16/1980 Moznajsk, RUS
10 V. Tikhonov 6'2" 189 5/12/1988 Riga, LAT
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
77 A. Belov EDM 6'4" 218 7/29/1986 Ryazan, RUS
26 S. Voynov LAK 6'0" 194 1/15/1990 Chelyabinsk, RUS
74 A. Emelin MTL 6'2" 224" 4/25/1986 Togliatti, RUS
79 A. Markov MTL 6'0" 201 12/20/1978 Voskresensk, RUS
82 Y. Medvedev 6'3" 198 8/27/1982 Chelyabinsk, RUS
6 N. Nikitin CBJ 6'4" 223 6/16/1986 Omsk, RUS
5 I. Nikulin 6'3" 216 3/12/192 Moscow, RUS
51 F. Tyutin CBJ 6'2" 212 7/19/1983 Izhevsk, RUS
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
72 S. Bobrovsky CBJ 6'2" 182 9/20/1988 Novokuznetsk, RUS
1 S. Varlamov COL 6'2" 209 4/27/1988 Samara, RUS
30 A. Eremenko 5'10" 165 4/10/1980 Moscow, RUS