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For the second Sunday in a row, an epic game between the U.S. and Canadian Olympic teams lived up to all the pregame hype. Only this time, the home team won.
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby scored at 7:40 of overtime to give the Canadians a gold medal that an entire nation had not only wanted, but also expected, placing an enormous amount of pressure on the 23 NHL stars called on to represent the host nation.
|Rangers alternate captain Ryan Callahan of Team USA fires a shot toward Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo late in the first period of Sunday's Olympic gold-medal game at Canada Hockey Place. |
A wide-open Crosby scored on a wrister from the base of the left faceoff circle after Jarome Iginla sprung him with a diving pass from along the left boards. Crosby slid the puck underneath U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller, the Olympic tournament MVP, for one of the most dramatic gold-medal moments in Olympic hockey history.
Crosby avoided a disaster for Canada, which had led 2-1 late in the third period before Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils forced overtime by scoring with only 24.4 seconds left in regulation.
Four members of the New York Rangers organization were forced to settle for silver medals as a result of the Canadian victory. Blueshirts captain Chris Drury and alternate captain Ryan Callahan
both played in the game, while Blueshirts head coach John Tortorella served as an assistant to coach Ron Wilson, and Bruce Lifrieri, the Rangers'assistant trainer and massage therapist was also behind the bench in the same capacity for Team USA.
While the Americans came out on the losing end, Sunday was a big day for Rangers Head Athletic Trainer Jim Ramsay, who was serving as the head trainer for Team Canada. Ramsay also was part of Canada's Olympic champion team in 2002.
For Drury, it marked the second silver medal of his Olympic career. He was also on the U.S. team that lost to Canada eight years ago at Salt Lake City in a game that wasn't nearly as close as Sunday's.
Three of the five Rangers players who went off to Vancouver two weeks ago are coming home with medals. Drury and Callahan are joined by Olli Jokinen, who scored two goals to lead Finland to bronze on Saturday night. Jokinen's medal came at the expense of a Slovakia team that featured Rangers scoring leader Marian Gaborik
. Blueshirts goalie Henrik Lundqvist
, a gold medalist in 2006, placed fifth with Team Sweden this year.
Team Canada outshot the Americans 39-36, and Miller was remarkable with 36 saves just one week after stopping 42 shots in a 5-3 preliminary-round win over the Canadians that had given Team USA a No. 1 seed for the medal round. Canada got the more important win, however, even though Miller would still take home MVP honors in defeat, much like Finnish goaltender Antero Niittymaki four years ago.
Sunday's game took on a larger-than-life feel when Parise sent it to the first 20-minute, 4-on-4 overtime in Olympic history.
With regulation time running out and Canada nursing a 2-1 lead it had held since the second period, Parise dug a loose puck out from the crease and slid it in under Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo of the hometown Vancouver Canucks.
Parise's goal, scored with 24.4 seconds left in the third period, came after MillerMiller had been pulled for an extra attacker with roughly 90 seconds to go. The Americans, who outshot Canada 9-7 in the third period, kept intense pressure on Luongo until a shot by Patrick Kane through traffic bounced off the Canadian goaltender to Jamie Langebrunner, who was stationed in front of the net. Langenbrunner shot the puck right back at Luongo, who could not control the rebound as Parise dug it away from him and pushed it home for a 2-2 tie.
Through 60 minutes, shots on goal were even at 32-32, with both Miller and Luongo making 30 saves.
Team USA had entered the game with a 5-0 record and was the only undefeated squad at the 2010 Olympic tournament until Sunday. The Americans came out hard against the Canadians, applying tremendous pressure on the forecheck and dictating the play for most of the period.
|Rangers captain Chris Drury won his second Olympic silver medal with Team USA on Sunday afternoon in Vancouver. Drury finished the tourney with two goals and was a big part of his team's defensive success. |
Canada began to see more chances over the final half of the opening period, but the U.S. defense clamped down until Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews broke through for the Canadians at the 12:50 mark. By getting the game's first goal, Canada avoided what had happened to them a week earlier, when Team USA made it 1-0 against another Canadian starter in Martin Brodeur.
Toews' scoring play happened shortly after a faceoff. Team USA had won the draw, but the Canadian forecheck forced a turnover, and Miller had to stop a tough shot from Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers. Unfortunately, Toews pounced on the rebound at the base of the right circle, where the faceoff had taken place, and rifled a tough-angle shot behind Miller and into the net.
At even strength, Callahan and Drury skated on multiple combinations of the U.S. fourth line in the first period. Callahan initially worked on a line with David Backes of the St. Louis Blues and Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks. Drury then took Callahan's spot on that line, while Callahan and Drury came out for their next two shifts together on a line with Backes.
Drury and Callahan got their first chance to work together on the U.S. penalty kill when Ryan was sent off for tripping in the offensive zone at 14:12 of the first. The duo, who have been so effective as a tandem for the Rangers this season, stayed out for the first minute of the Ryan penalty and helped prevent Canada from firing any shots at Miller. They came out for the final 25 seconds of the power play as well, and the Americans successfully killed off the penalty.
In the closing seconds, Callahan got his first scoring opportunity of the game, as he carried the puck up the right wing boards and used his speed to launch a shot at Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo.
Drury finished the first period with 4:06 of ice time, while Callahan had 4:21 and the late shot on goal. The Canadians outshot Team USA 10-8 in the first period.
Drury and Callahan continued to show their penalty-killing expertise in the second period, when Ryan Malone went off for hooking at 2:33. The two Rangers were out for roughly 1:30 of the two-mnute Canadian power play, and Drury made a couple of stellar blocks, including one in the final seconds against Canadian defenseman Dan Boyle.
Team USA would get its first power-play chance at 4:41 of the first period, when Eric Staal went off for interference, but the Americans couldn't convert. Just over 30 seconds after Staal came out of the penalty box, the Canadians took their 2-0 lead when Ryan Getzlaf centered the puck to his Anaheim teammate Corey Perry, who beat Miller on the glove side as Patrick Marleau drifted toward the front of the net at 7:13 of the second.
Down 2-0, the Americans were unable to convert another power play that resulted from Toews' tripping penalty at 8:25 of the second, but they did come through at even-strength to make it a 2-1 game at the 12:44 mark.
|Rangers Head Athletic Trainer Jim Ramsay, back, celebrates Canada's victory with forward Eric Staal, the older brother of Rangers defenseman Marc Staal. Ramsay was serving as Team Canada's trainer. |
Ryan Kesler of the hometown Vancouver Canucks got the first U.S. goal when he tipped in a shot by Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks. Kesler started the play when he came over the blue line with Kane on his right and Dustin Brown to his left. Kesler dropped the puck to Kane at the top of the right faceoff circle, and Kane unloaded a shot as Kesler charged the net. On its way toward Luongo, the puck deflected off Kesler's stick and sailed past Luongo to make it a one-goal game.
Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils had a chance to tie the score moments later when he came in on the left side during a 2-on-1 rush, but shot the puck into Luongo as the Canadian goalie hugged the left post.
Drury finished the second period with another 2:11 of ice time, much of it spent on the penalty kill. Callahan, who was skating on an energy line with Backes and Ryan, played 3:06 of the middle period. That line was sent out to help fire up Team USA on the first shift after it allowed Perry's goal.
The Canadians had numerous chances to put Team USA away in the third period before Parise tied it, but Canada came up empty each time.
The Canadians hit two posts within the first two minutes of the third. With 3:15 left in regulation Crosby was sprung on a breakaway for Team Canada, but Miller dove out of the net, and a defender got back just in time so that Crosby couldn't get a shot on goal.
Drury had a shot at Luongo at the 10:20 mark, when he broke into the Canadian zone alongside Ryan Malone. The shot was stopped, but a line of Drury, Malone and Backes continued to apply pressure during a very strong shift.
Drury saw 2:27 of ice time in the third period, bringing him to 8:44 for the first 60 minutes. Callahan had only 51 seconds of third-period ice time and was at 8:18 through three periods.
In the overtime, Drury and Callahan skated together for one 50-second shift of the 4-on-4. They will play their next game as teammates when they come home to the Rangers and resume their NHL season at Ottawa on Tuesday night.