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Olympic replay: Canada vs. Slovakia

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
February 26, 2010

Luongo

CANADA 3 SLOVAKIA 2

The sights and sounds inside Canada Hockey Place are all most too much for the senses to handle right now.

There are 10 shirtless guys to my left with letters written on their chests spelling GO CANADA GO. My right features Wayne Gretzky doing a broadcast for TSN and the fans are going wacky. A great GRETZKY GRETZKY chant just finished.

I’ll be front and centre all game bringing you everything and anything you need to know.

I sincerely hope there is no one reading this though, find yourself a TV…NOW!

FIRST PERIOD

The 99 per cent pro-Canadian crowd was swift to welcome their warriors to the ice with a LET’S GO CANADA chant 21 seconds into the first.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

The fans were jacked and so were the players as the Canadian squad was quick off the draw and had three scoring chances from in close in the opening 10 minutes.

American fans would be quick to point out they were up 6-0 by the midway point of the first in their game, but it’s a marathon not a sprint and Canada was looking just fine.

At the 6:30 mark Canada put that fine play on the scoreboard. Shea Weber point shot was tipped in front by Patrick Marleau as he jolted his stick downward to knock the puck between Jaroslav Halak’s legs, off the post, and in.

The ref went upstairs to review that it wasn’t a high-stick, while fans did the old Atlanta Braves tomahawk urging the ref to point to centre ice and signal goal.

He did.

Less than two minutes later, he did it again.

Chris Pronger threw a weak shot on goal and Brendan Morrow got a stick on it to tip it in.

2-0 Canada.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Slovak Lubomir Visnovsky was the goat defenceman on both early goals as he was unable to clear Marleau or Morrow from the front of the goal.

Shots are 10-4 for Canada after the first.

SECOND PERIOD

While the hockey was fast in the second, both teams really weren’t skating anywhere.

The frame flew by with only a few whistles to break up the action, one was to penalize Drew Doughty for hooking Marian Gaborik as he made his way to the net.

Canada killed off the ensuing power play and was granted one of its own a few minutes later when Zdeno Chara bulldozed Morrow, but the result was the same.

Canada finally score on the power play with 3:06 remaining in the third period. Off a Corey Perry wrister from 20 feet, Ryan Getzlaf gobbled up the rebound and scooped it past Halak.

A 3-0 lead feels comfortable, but a late goal and Slovakia was right back in the game. Roberto Luongo eliminated the chance of that when Zigmund Palffy got a step on the defence and put a low shot into his pads.

The loose rebound caused havoc as it bounced in front of the goal off Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook forcing Luongo to dive to his left to stop Palffy from poking it over the line.

Luongo has nine saves through two.

Team Canada is 20 minutes from an epic gold medal showdown with the United States.

That’s going to feel like an eternity.

THIRD PERIOD

That was way too close for comfort.

Comfortably ahead 3-0 in the third period, the Canadians took their foot off the gas as fans chanted WE WANT USA. All was right in the world.

That was until the Slovaks finally woke up.

Lubomir Visnovsky and Michal Handzus scored back-to-back goals in a span of 3:32 late in the third to put the nation on pause.

For the final 4:53 of the period, the clock couldn’t tick fast enough.

Every time the once dormant Slovaks touched the puck, fans squirmed to the edge of their seats.

It was blind date awkward.

Sensing a boost was needed, fans stepped up their game and Canada responded with smart play down the stretch to kill off the clock.

Phew.

Despite the slim win, Canada still won and they’ll now face juggernaut USA in the gold medal final Sunday.

If you thought this finish was intense, you’re in for a surprise in 48 hours…

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