Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn and Stars coach Lindy Ruff came out on top at the Olympics in Sochi as Canada defeated Sweden, 3-0, to win its second consecutive gold medal.
Carey Price stopped 24 shots for his second straight shutout and Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz scored for Canada, which became the first team to win back-to- back gold medals since Soviet Union in 1984 and 1988.
Canada’s defense, which was overseen by Ruff, an associate coach for the team, was impressive in the tournament. Canada allowed just three goals over six games, outscoring its opposition 17-3.
"Our defense was solid," said Crosby. "They're so good at skating their way out of trouble that we didn’t have to play in our own end, and with the guys we have offensively the more we can stay out of there the better chance we have of creating things."
Canada took the lead 12:55 into the game when Toews knocked a Jeff Carter centering pass by Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Crosby made it 2-0 at 15:43 of the second, poking the puck away from Swedish defenseman Jonathan Ericsson at the Canadian blue line to create a breakaway and then beating Lundqvist with a backhand shot. Kunitz made it a 3-0 game midway through the third, scoring a goal off the rush.
Benn had no points, three shots and an even rating in 14:20 of playing time. He again played on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He also was a key penalty killer in the game for Canada.
Sweden, which was shooting for its second gold medal in the last three Olympics, had to settle for the silver.
“They played at a higher tempo, and they had control of the puck,” said Sweden's coach Par Marts. “They had so many breakouts, I couldn’t count them. You can’t play that way against Canada. Canada was much, much better this day.”
Stars GM Jim Nill says Olympic experience great for Benn, Lehtonen and Nichushkin
Stars GM Jim Nill said the Olympic experience was a good one for the three Dallas Stars who played in the tournament.
Stars captain Jamie Benn was the last one standing, winning a gold medal after Canada defeated Sweden, 3-0, on Sunday.
“It’s a boost for him,” Nill said of Benn winning a gold medal in Sochi. “Great boost for him.”
Benn scored two goals – both of them game-winners – in six games played. He scored one of the biggest goals of the tournament for Canada, notching the game’s only goal in a 1-0 victory over the United States in the semifinals. He tied for second on Team Canada with 18 shots on goal. He was an effective penalty killer. He played on various lines, but settled in on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry over the last three games of the tournament, and that trio was one of Canada’s best lines.
“It’s been a great tournament for him,” Nill said of Benn. “He went out there as kind of the extra guy and he won the coaching staff over. His line (with Getzlaf and Perry) has been one of the top lines for Canada the last couple games. I think this is going to help his game grow on the ice and off the ice, too.
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen took home a bronze medal with Finland at the tournament. He went to Sochi and many thought he could be the No. 3 goaltender for the Finns, but he ended up as the No. 2 guy and played two games, posting a 1-1 record, 1.51 goals against average and .935 save percentage.
“It was a great tournament for Kari,” Nill said. “They won the bronze medal, when you look at the injuries they had for Finland and that. Kari got to play two games, three goals against and it was a good tournament for him. It was a great experience.”
Stars rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin didn’t medal as Russia lost in the quarterfinals and finished fifth. How much Nichushkin would play was up in the air going into the tournament, but he played in every game. His ice time was limited in some games, but he scored a goal in Russia’s first game
“It was a great experience for Val,” Nill said. “To be an 18-year-old kid to play against the best players in the world, that’s quite an accomplishment. To be around the players he’s around, when you get in the dressing room with the Datsyuks, Malkins and Ovechkins and you watch how they prepare, that is going to bode well for him in the future.”
Here are the various awards handed out after the Men’s Olympic hockey tournament.
Individual Awards as selected by the tournament directorate
Best Goalkeeper: Carey Price, Canada
Best Defenseman: Erik Karlsson, Sweden
Best Forward: Phil Kessel, USA
Most Valuable Player as selected by the media
Teemu Selanne, Finland
All-Star Team as selected by the media
Goalkeeper: Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden
Defenseman: Erik Karlsson, Sweden
Defenseman: Drew Doughty, Canada
Forward: Teemu Selanne, Finland
Forward: Phil Kessel, USA
Forward: Mikael Granlund, Finland
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.