Sweden earns spot in gold-medal game, awaits winner of U.S.-CanadaContinue reading.
Toews, Canada win second straight gold medal
SOCHI, Russia — This wasn’t one of those ordinary Jonathan Toews goal celebrations — a stoic look and a mild, cool and confident fist shake. No, this was one of those howling, one-knee, ferocious fist-pump jobs. The kind of reaction Toews only busts out for the big ones — playoff goals, game-winning goals, and yes, golden goals.
Canada won its second straight Olympic gold medal on Sunday afternoon at Bolshoy Ice Dome, beating Sweden 3-0 with a ruthless and relentless style that left the depleted Swedes gasping and grasping for air. And as he did in 2010 in Vancouver, Toews got it started off with a goal just less than 13 minutes into the first period. Carey Price — who posted shutouts in the semifinal and the final — made it stand up as the game-winner.
So Toews now has two gold medals and two Stanley Cups.
And he’s 25.
“These things just keep coming at you,” he said shortly after posing on the ice for a picture with teammates Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, the gold medals slung around their necks. “You get these opportunities and you just try and seize every one of them.”
Keith has the same gaudy resume at age 30. And Sharp now has his first gold medal to go with his two Cups.
“This is what we play for, we play for championships and Stanley Cups and gold medals,” Keith said. “I definitely feel that we’ve got a lot of opportunity to win more.”
The Canadians were utterly dominant, a defensive machine that sent wave after wave of big, physical and supremely skilled forwards at opponents. The Swedes — like the Americans two nights earlier — quickly had the life sucked out of them by the Canadians’ hyper-aggressive forechecking and backchecking, nearly every forward a 200-foot player.
“They played unbelievable defense,” said Niklas Hjalmarsson, who took home a silver medal along with Blackhawks teammates Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger. “One of the best teams I’ve ever played against, for sure. I’m just disappointed that we couldn’t really give them a better go for the gold.”
Fact is, Canada didn’t let them. Sweden was clearly hurt by a devastating series of injuries and absences. Already without top center Henrik Sedin and No. 2 center and captain Henrik Zetterberg because of injuries, the Swedes lost No. 3 center Nicklas Backstrom just hours before the game when they learned he had tested positive for a banned substance, reportedly an allergy medication.
But as the Canadians showed all tournament, allowing just three goals in six games, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.
“We’re just an amazing team to watch, the way we work together,” Toews said. “We were just all over them. It’s fun to be a part of.”
Toews and Sidney Crosby — both of whom hadn’t scored all tournament long — came through with goals in the biggest game of them all. Toews redirected a Jeff Carter centering pass past Henrik Lundqvist in the first period, and Crosby scored on a breakaway in the second. Chris Kunitz, who also was receiving plenty of flak for failing to produce, scored his first goal to seal it midway through the third period.
Canada coach Mike Babcock ended his postgame press conference with a mic-drop moment in the face of many of his team’s biggest critics.
“Does anybody know who won the scoring race?” he asked. “Does anybody care? Does anyone know who won the gold medal? See you, guys.”
And that’s just it. For this Canada team — perhaps the most impressive roster of skill players ever assembled — it was never about scoring lots of goals. It was about not giving up any. And everyone bought in, even those who rarely got to play. Toews singled out players such as Roberto Luongo (who played just one game), Martin St. Louis (who finally got his chance on Sunday) and Sharp (who played just one shift over the final two periods after playing a major role in the semifinal).
“[They’re] guys that have made sacrifices to win the gold medal,” Toews said. “You ask them, I don’t think they care. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of a team like that, whether your role was big or small.”
But for Toews, of course, his role was big — as it always seems to be on the biggest stages, in the biggest games. And now he’s got another treasure to go along with all the other accolades, awards and championships he’s won in his brief but brilliant career.
So, does he have a spot in mind for the latest addition?
“Not yet,” he said with a smile. “I’ll have to make some room.”