VANCOUVER – Canada defeated Norway by a 8-0 score this afternoon at Canada Hockey Place to move into a tie for first place in Group A with the United States, winners earlier today against the Swiss, 3-1.
Leading the way was Jarome Iginla with three goals and Sidney Crosby with three assists. Linemate Rick Nash had a goal and assist as well. Roberto Luongo stopped 15 shots for the relatively easy shutout.
"Sid is a special player," Iginla said. "Every pass is perfect. He can shoot; he can do it all. He does do it all."Click here for the photo gallery of the game.
If there were a Norwegian fan among the sold-out crowd, he or she was neither visible nor audible above the din of pro-Canadian chants and cheers which reached thunderous levels when the players skated out for the opening faceoff. Never before have the names Crosby, Niedermayer, Nash, Thornton, Toews, Pronger, and the rest of the group played together on the same team, and fans appreciated this moment in hockey history.
"It was a great atmosphere," Crosby enthused. "It's great to be playing in Canada, and I think we used it to our advantage."
Coach Mike Babcock decided to start local boy Roberto Luongo in goal, a smart decision if only because the Vancouver Canucks’ star was cheered—and “Loooooed”—ever time he touched the puck.
The Canadians started out with all the expected energy, but the Norwegians did not play the perfect visitors by caving in. Wave after wave of Canadian attack looked impressive. The players seemed one and all over six feet tall with speed to burn and an ability to move the puck at top speed, but they showed nerves around the goal of Pal Grotnes who was solid if unspectacular in a scoreless first period.
Coach Mike Babcock started the game with Crosby at centre between Rick Nash and Patrice Bergeron, but after only a couple of shifts he started looking for other wingers for Canada’s famous number 87. Soon enough, though, they were back together, although it was Iginla who, in the end, claimed the right wing spot on the line.
The Norwegians were content to play stifling defence in all areas of the ice, not worrying too much about scoring but only wanting to contain the Canadians in their own end, to break up plays between the blue lines, and to keep them to the outside in the attacking end.
Crosby had the best chance early on, but he couldn’t turn and get a shot off with Grotnes down and out. Later in the period he was first to a loose puck in the slot and drilled a shot to the top corner that the goalie made a great save on. On a late power play he made the best pass of the period from his off wing, faking a shot and passing behind the play to Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf, however, fanned on the perfect set-up with an open net staring at him.
Grotnes kept the team in the game until 2:30 of the second period. Canada, on the power play, struck on a nice little pass from Crosby to Iginla in the slot. Iginla’s quick shot beat Grotnes to the stick side. Moments earlier Shea Weber hit the post with a slap shot of such ferocity replays showed the net rock back and forth.
The Canadians made it 2-0 at 4:27 when Dany Heatley made a nice touch of a Chris Pronger shot en route to the goal. The puck changed direction just enough to elude Grotnes under the blocker.
Canada’s penalty killers were tested midway through the period when they had to kill off a lengthy 5-on-3 situation, but they, and Luongo, passed with flying colours.
Mike Richards did what he does best several minutes later while killing a penalty. He shot the puck into the Norway end, but it bounced against the near side of the net. He banged away at it a couple of times, the second effort beating Grotnes between the pads. Eric Staal’s penalty expired at the same time as the goal, 11:06, so technically it wasn’t listed as a short-handed goal.
Getzlaf finally got a goal early in the third period, moments after lifting a puck high over the net. It came on a lengthy delayed penalty and with a Norwegian defender without his stick. The goal was the last for Grotnes who was replaced by Andre Lysenstoen.
Dany Heatley gave the new goalie a rude awakening just a couple of minutes later on the power play. Skating down the left side, he wound up and let rip a fierce slap shot that beat Lysenstoen high on the short side.
Not to be outdone, Crosby, Nash, and Iginla scored just about the prettiest goal you’ll ever see, Iginla finishing off a series of gorgeous passes that belied the newness of the threesome. Corey Perry, and Iginla again added late goals. The last resulted in dozens of hats being thrown onto the ice by adoring fans in honour of Iginla's three-goal performance
"You have to move the puck," Crosby noted, "and with these guys [Iginla and Nash] the ice opens up a lot."
"The atmosphere was fantastic, and we're trying to enjoy every minute of this. It was a fun challenge to meet Chris Pronger in the corner, these are the guys I grew up watching," says Mats Zuccarello Aasen, 22, who plays with Modo in the Swedish Elitserien. The Norwegians were without Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, one of their top scorers, due to family reasons.
The blended officiating crew today featured NHLer Chris Rooney and Finn Jyri Ronn, both fluid skaters who read the flow of play well and who called the game judiciously.
Canada next plays Thursday afternoon against Switzerland while the Norwegians play the United States earlier that day.