|Nashville defenseman Shea Weber's goal gave Team Canada a 1-0 lead in the second period en route to the 3-1 victory over Norway. (Photo by Getty Images)
When Team Canada took the ice for the first time since winning gold at the 2010 Winter Games, there were many familiar faces as well as new ones that were more than ready to begin the quest of defending the country’s title.
“There’s a lot of guys returning and at the same time we’ve got some good youth and young guys coming in to give us a little more energy so we’re definitely excited,” Nashville defenseman Shea Weber told NBC Sports Net’s Pierre McGuire.
The matchup between Canada and Norway Thursday afternoon began and ended just as it had four years ago, giving the defending gold-medal champion its fifth Olympic victory over the Norwegians and second straight with Wings coach Mike Babcock at the helm.
The two countries faced off in their opening preliminary tournament game in 2010, where a scoreless first period led to an eventual 8-0 win in favor of the Canadiens. After 20 minutes of play in Sochi, Canada and Norway were locked in a scoreless tie before the defending champions used a two-goal second period to secure a 3-1 victory.
“They came out with a lot of life and energy and we just stuck with it and got better as they game went on and we gotta consistently do that,” Weber said. “ I think more get comfortable with each other and chemistry comes along things are just going to get better.”
Weber put Team Canada on the scoreboard first with a goal from the blue line with six minutes left in the second period. The goal was noticeably similar to Weber’s score in Canada’s 8-2 victory over Germany in a qualification game of the 2010 Winter Games, when his rocket from the blue line caused the puck to pass through the goal’s mesh net and required video review to determine the score.
“It was a good couple plays there,” Weber said. “Obviously Bergie (Patrice Bergeron) came up and replaced Duncan there and they did kind of a high cycle and Bergie got it out to me and popped a little bit at the blue line but stayed in and just found a way to get it through.”
Dallas forward Jamie Benn gave the Canadiens a two-goal lead late in the second off a cross-ice pass from Bergeron. After holding only a one-shot edge (9-8) over Norway in the first period, Team Canada outshot the Norwegians 14-2 in the second and held a comfortable 2-0 lead heading into the final intermission.
But Team Norway wouldn’t go away quietly. Just 22 seconds into the third period, forward Sondre Olden took advantage of Canada goaltender Carey Price’s mishandling of the puck on a power play to cut the Canadiens’ lead in half.
Team Canada didn’t waste any time restoring their two-goal lead, though. The southern California duo of Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty connected just over one minute later to give the Canadiens a 3-1 advantage, marking Doughty’s first Olympic goal.
Canada is now 5-0 against Norway in the Olympics, and has outscored the Norwegians 40-4 in the five matchups between the two countries.
The victory came in Team Canada’s first appearance since winning gold at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. The Canadiens will play their second game of the preliminary tournament against Austria Friday at 12 p.m. on USA.