Jeff Carter leads Canada's rout of Austria in Olympic men's hockey
Nets natural hat trick in 6-0 win for Canadians
Jeff Carter had almost as many goals as he did minutes of ice time on Friday.
And if his performance is any indication, he may be in line for a hefty increase in his workload going forward.
The L.A. Kings forward scored a second-period natural hat trick, and Team Canada’s blue-line continued its offensive outburst as the Olympic men’s hockey squad routed Austria 6-0 Friday at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Defenceman Shea Weber and forward Ryan Getzlaf each had a goal and an assist, while blue-liner Drew Doughty also scored for the Canadians, who started their gold-medal defence 2-0.
Goalie Roberto Luongo (1-0), getting the call in place of Game 1 starter Carey Price, was solid when needed in making 23 saves for the shutout. It’s not immediately clear who will get the call between the pipes for Canada’s next game against Finland on Sunday – a battle for top spot in Group B (streaming live on cbc.ca/Olympics at 12 p.m. ET).
It was the first natural hat trick by a Canadian men’s Olympic hockey player since Paul Knox accomplished the feat in 1956, also against Austria. The kicker? Carter did it in just 8:46 of ice time.
All three of the London, Ont., native’s goals came from in close, including a wraparound that caught Austrian goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum (0-2) off-guard.
But Carter said he doesn’t care how he gets them, as long as they go in, and credited his teammates for their efforts.
“I don't know if I've had one like that,” Carter said. “I'll take them any way they can come right now. My linemates did a great job of winning races to the puck, winning puck battles, and getting pucks to the net, and I guess you could say I was the recipient of their hard work. It was good.”
Carter, 29, also said he can build from this performance going forward and use it as a motivator.
“Oh, it's huge,” he said. “Confidence in these tournaments is a big thing, with it being so short. You get a goal, and you start to feel good about yourself. Your legs start to feel a little better, the hands start to feel a little better, and it feels like the game comes a little easier. It's definitely big.”
He wasn’t the only Team Canada forward with a big three-point night, either.
San Jose Sharks sniper Patrick Marleau assisted on all three of Carter’s goals for the Canadians, who were all over the porous Austrian defence. They churned out 46 shots on goal compared to just 23 for Austria.
Carter also factored in on teammate Ryan Getzlaf’s beautiful shorthanded goal but didn’t get an official assist for his efforts. Carter created some room in front of the net as Getzlaf wound his way around a pair of defenders, and used a sneaky curl-and-drag move to beat a helpless Starkbaum, giving the Canadians a 6-0 advantage.
Starkbaum prevented a much more lopsided score and was solid in withstanding a barrage of shots from the potent Canadian offence, making 25 saves before exiting ahead of the third period.
Perhaps his best stop came as Anaheim Ducks sniper Corey Perry swooped in on a penalty shot but was denied by Starkbaum’s glove hand. The 27-year-old would give way to backup goalie Mathias Lange for the third, who held the Canadians off the score sheet and turned aside 15 shots.
The result may provide some comfort to uneasy fans, who might have been concerned following Canada’s tournament-opening 3-1 win over Norway Thursday. The offensive output was also important as total goals determine seeding going forward.
While their efforts didn’t stand out in the boxscore, the John Tavares-Patrice Bergeron-Jamie Benn line proved to be arguably one of Canada’s best, with the New York Islanders centre getting robbed by Starkbaum on a couple of close chances.
It was a stark contrast to the sluggish start exhibited by the Canadians in their first game, where they couldn’t muster a goal until the second period.
The Canadians looked like a cohesive unit this time. They passed with precision, skated with fluidity and navigated their way around the ice with ease.
With the Canadians up 1-0 in the first period on Doughty’s second of the tournament, Perry showed off his playmaking skills. At 10:12 of the first period, he dropped a pass back to Weber, who stepped in to let loose a mammoth blast that beat Starkbaum above his shoulder. It was Weber’s second goal in as many games.
His 15 National Hockey League goals are tied with Sweden’s Erik Karlsson for the league lead.
Canada shuffled its lineup ahead of the puck drop, subbing in reigning Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban for Dan Hamhuis, Luongo in for Price, and Matt Duchene got the call in place of Patrick Sharp. Subban played just 11:41 and failed to record a shot on goal.
The game was a mismatch on both the ice and on paper, with Austria boasting just three NHL players on its roster. New York Islanders forwards Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner are both competing in their first Olympic Games, while Austria is making its first Olympic appearance since 2002 in Salt Lake City. Michael Raffl of the Philadelphia Flyers is also representing the Austrians.
Grabner sniped a hat trick in Austria's 8-4 tournament-opening loss to Finland Thursday but couldn’t get his squad on the board against the Canadians.
Next up for Austria is Norway Sunday (3 a.m. ET, streaming live at cbc.ca/Olympics).