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Million-dollar Maple Leafs

Million-dollar Maple Leafs

Canada golden in dominating 6-1 win

Published 18.05.2015 02:06 GMT+2 | Author Andrew Podnieks
Million-dollar Maple Leafs
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 17: Canadian players and staff celebrate during the national anthem after a 6-1 gold medal game win over Russia at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Canada got its first two goals from the fourth line and skated to a near flawless gold medal win, crushing Russia 6-1 and finishing with a perfect 10-0 record.

This is Canada's first gold since 2007, and with the win Sidney Crosby becomes the 26th member of the Triple Gold Club and the first to captain all three championship teams.

Canada outshot the Russians by a whopping 37-12 margin.

"We knew they are good off the rush, strong on the puck," said Canadian defenceman Jake Muzzin. "We had to play tight defence and hard on those guys to eliminate their chances. They did get some opportunities but Smitty was there to make some big saves but for the most part we stayed to our plan and executed it."

By going undefeated and winning every game in regulation, the Canadians also go home with a little extra cash – one million Swiss Francs, to be precise, courtesy of a promotion by Infront Sports & Media.

"You expect to come here and have tight games," Crosby said. "You look at the semi-final: 2-0. It could have gone either way. Today, we just played a great game. We buried our chances. Our depth really showed. We had a lot of forwards who could contribute, but our defence was able to add to the offence. Our goaltending was really solid. All the way through, a great team effort."

Canada's perfect record included a whopping 66 goals scored and giving up but 15. Six of the top ten scorers were Canadian, including leader Jason Spezza with 14 points, Jordan Eberle with 13, and Taylor Hall with 12.

"I don’t think you come into a game like this thinking you’re going to win 6-1," said Crosby. "They are a dangerous team that even with a two or three goal lead you really can’t sit back. It was good to get a big lead there and the inside of five minutes we started to enjoy it more because we knew it was getting closer. It is not always that way."

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"In the second period we threw the game away," suggested Alexander Ovechkin. "We only had one shot. Of course they played really well today, it's obvious that they're a good experienced team and they showed it today. It's a good thing for us that young players got to play against guys like Crosby, Giroux, Burns because they got some great experience."

The penalty-free opening period was a blend of nerves and skill, fear of making a critical error and blazing speed. Both teams had great chances to score, although Canada held a wide margin in puck possession. Sean Couturier fired a rebound over the open net while being checked, and Ovechkin made a great rush only to fire high when the time came to shoot.

As it turned out, this was the only impressive moment for "Ovi", who was held in check the rest of the night.

"We were a bit nervous at the start," admitted Dmitri Kulikov. "We all felt a lot of pressure and responsibility. Right from the start we couldn't get into the game, then we tried to chase the Canadians but the boat had long sailed."

Cody Eakin opened the scoring at 18:10 when Viktor Tikhonov failed to clear the zone. Tyler Ennis got the puck and curled through the middle, then turned and fired a low shot that went off Eakin’s skate and in. The goal, by Canada’s fourth line, came on Eakin’s third shift of the game.

The player of the period, though, was Crosby, who made several great passes to create good scoring chances for linemates Hall and Eberle.

Canada blew the game open in the middle period. It started harmlessly enough with the fourth line again. Ennis carried the puck in as Eakin fought with Maxim Chudinov in the slot. But while everyone watched this screen, Ennis curled quickly around the net, catching Bobrovski by surprise, and wrapped the puck in just 1:56 into the period.

Then Canada struck for two more quick goals. Dan Hamhuis kept the puck in at the blue line, and Eberle made a beautiful tip of the puck back in front where Crosby wired a phenomenal wrist shot over the goalie’s glove at 7:22.

Just 44 seconds later, Tyler Seguin made it 4-0 on a rush with a delayed penalty in effect. Claude Giroux looked to have lost the puck, but he whipped around and got it to Seguin alone in front. He made no mistake.

"He yelled at me and I didn’t have any more plays, so I just put it there," Giroux deadpanned.

Coach Oleg Znarok called a timeout, but Canada kept the pressure on and refused to be content. There was, after all, half a game left to play. Shots on goal in the second--14-1 for Canada, and 29-6 over 40 minutes.

Canada learned a vaubale lesson about third-period play yesterday against the Czechs. Tonight, they pressed the Russians deep in their own end. Giroux made it 5-0 at 8:58 on a power play thanks to a great pass from the side of the net by Crosby.

Russia ended Smith's shutout streak with a point shot from Sergei Mozyakin that went through the goalie's pads. That goal was the first conceded by Smith in 190:03 of play, going back four games to a 10-1 win versus Austria.

"We got better as the tournament went on, and we saved our best for last here today," Crosby said.

"Our goal just stayed the same, no matter what the score or what the team. I thought we really pushed each other to get better with each game. Some were closer than others, but when you look back to that Sweden game, that 3-0 deficit and the way we showed a lot of character, that was a big building block for our team. When we got through that, I thought our confidence was really big, and we felt like no matter what the team or the challenge, we could overcome it. That was huge."


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