PRICE STARS, BENN SCORES, CANADA TO PLAY FOR OLYMPIC GOLD
SOCHI, Russia – Jamie Benn (Victoria, B.C./Dallas, NHL) scored the lone goal, Carey Price (Anahim Lake, B.C./Montreal, NHL) earned the shutout, and Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team advanced to Sunday’s gold medal game at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games with a 1-0 semifinal over the United States on Friday.
Price stopped all 31 American shots he faced for the first shutout by a Canadian goaltender in an Olympic elimination game since the men’s tournament went to a playoff format in 1992.
Canada will try to become the first country to win back-to-back men’s hockey Olympic gold medals since the Soviet Union in 1984 and 1988 when it faces Sweden on Sunday morning (7 a.m. ET/4 a.m. PT).
After the Canadians held a 16-11 advantage in shots on goal in a fast-paced first period, they broke through just 101 seconds into the second; Benn redirected a Jay Bouwmeester (Edmonton, Alta./St. Louis, NHL) shot past U.S. netminder Jonathan Quick for the all-important first goal.
“We were just trying to grind them out down low,” Benn said of his goal. “I got down in the middle, and I made a pass back to the D, Bouwmeester made a great shot-pass, and it found a way in.”
Canada buzzed for an insurance goal in the second period; Corey Perry (Peterborough, Ont./Anaheim, NHL), Chris Kunitz (Regina, Sask./Pittsburgh, NHL) and Benn were all turned away by Quick on point-blank scoring opportunities.
But Price made sure Benn’s goal would be enough, shutting down every U.S. scoring chance, keeping the tournament’s highest-scoring offence off the board and posting his fourth win in as many starts.
In his first Olympic appearance, Price has an unblemished 4-0 record, a 0.74 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage, ranking second in all three categories among goaltenders who have played at least 60 per cent of their team’s minutes.
The game was a goaltending performance for the ages from both sides; Price and Quick combined to stop 67 of the 68 shots they faced in a game that featured five power plays and almost constant end-to-end action.
Canada finished with a 37-31 advantage in shots on goal.
It’s the second consecutive Olympics that Canada has ended American gold medal hopes; the Canadians won gold in Vancouver four years ago with a 3-2 overtime victory over the U.S. in the final.
Twenty-four players from that game were on the ice Friday – 11 for Canada, 13 for the United States.