Drew Doughty scores OT winner as Canada beats Finland
Defenceman leads way with 2 goals
Drew Doughty isn't used to playing the role of a sniper.
But his teammates think he's been adapting to the role quite exceptionally.
The defenceman scored two goals, including the overtime winner at 2:32, in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Finland at Sunday at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Canada moves on to the quarter-finals, securing the third seed in the process.
The game-winning goal came as Doughty led the rush into the Finland zone, and ripped a wrist shot through traffic that appeared to deflect off a stick and beat Rask between the legs.
“I just tried to get the puck on goal for a tip or something, and it went in," Doughty told reporters. "I don't know what's going on. I don't usually score goals like that.
"We needed this win today. I think that's how a lot of teams are going to play us throughout the rest of the tournament.
"They're going to kind of sit back and make us make mistakes and, on the turnovers, they're going to jump and try to get odd-man rushes."
Doughty now leads Canada with four goals and five points in the tournament.
Canada will play the qualification-round winner between either 11th-seeded Latvia or sixth-seeded Switzerland.
Canadian captain Sidney Crosby noted how stingy the Finns were defensively, and said he expects more clubs to use a similar strategy.
“There’s not a lot of room out there, they were playing pretty tight,” Crosby told Hockey Night’s Elliotte Friedman. “[Finland was] relying on playing defence and waiting for us to make mistakes so we played a pretty patient game. That’s the kind of game we’re going to have to play but we’ll have to work hard to get our chances.”
Finland goaltender Tuukka Rask was spectacular, turning aside 25 shots in the losing effort. Canadian counterpart Carey Price was equally up to the task, although much less busy.
Price, getting the start in place of Roberto Luongo, made 14 saves.
Tuomo Ruutu scored the lone goal for Finland while Mikael Granlund led the club with four shots on goal.
The Canadians needed a regulation win (and the accompanying three points) to clinch the top spot but finished atop Group B with eight points, while Finland was second with seven.
With Canada's overtime win, Sweden officially clinched the top seed, and will face the winner between Slovenia and Austria, with the U.S., sliding into the second spot – going up against either the Czech Republic or Slovakia.
It also means the Canadians and Americans could be on a collision course going forward as there is a chance they could meet in the semifinals.
Both clubs played stingy defensive games, but the pace of play was quick and exciting. They made few mistakes, shutting down scoring opportunities whenever they arose. And when they did, the goaltenders were there to deny them.
Canada would outshoot Finland 9-4 in the period, but the Finns were the only team to convert a scoring opportunity when Tuomo Ruutu redirected a point shot.
Canada struck first in the opening frame thanks to some hard work by the newly formed Crosby-Patrice Bergeron-Jamie Benn line.
Crosby drew a key penalty late in the first period, and the Canadians would capitalize on the opportunity. At 13:44, L.A. Kings blue-liner Doughty sent a wrist shot whistling over Rask’s shoulder to make it 1-0.
Notes: Doughty said teammates were calling him sniper because his goals weren't exactly on killer shots...
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 16, 2014
Six of Canada’s 11 Olympic goals have come from the defence, while Crosby and Shea Weber would also earn assists on the play.
Prior to the Olympics, Doughty had scored just twice in his previous 27 games.
Rask, however, responded.
The 26-year-old later showed why it’s not a smart idea to test him on the glove side. Patrick Sharp and Chris Kunitz, who have been shuffled in and out of the lineup, teamed up to create a marvellous scoring opportunity just after the Canadians had just gone up 1-0.
Sharp sent a pass to a wide-open Kunitz, who ripped a one timer that was picked off the by glove side of Rask.
Much has been made of head coach Mike Babcock’s lineup shuffling.
He replaced reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Martin St. Louis with Patrick Sharp, while substituting incumbent Norris Trophy winning defenceman P.K. Subban with Dan Hamhuis.
Crosby had some new linemates to start the game as Babcock broke up what was arguably one of Canada’s best trios against Austria. Benn and Bergeron flanked the Penguins sniper, after the pair skated alongside Islanders forward John Tavares on Friday.
Crosby said he's not the one to ask about the lineup combinations.
“That’s a question you’ll have to ask Mike,” Crosby said. "…You’re looking to balance four lines too so I think it depends on the situation, but as far as making those decisions, the coach has to make them. As players, we know what our role is and that doesn’t change no matter what line we play on."
(With files from Reuters)