Sidney Crosby leads Canada past Sweden to win men's hockey gold medal

9:46 AM, Feb 23, 2014   |    comments
Canada forward Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring a goal against Sweden in the second period.
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Hockey is Canada's sport yet again.

Canada won Olympic gold in 2002 on the big ice. It won it in 2010 on NHL size. And it won outside North America on the big ice in Sochi with a 3-0 victory against Sweden on Sunday.

What it means: The Canadians have won three of the last four Olympic men's tournaments, and they are the first country to win back-to-back Olympic championships since the Soviet Union did it in 1984 and 1988. The Unified Team, representing the former Soviet Union, won in 1992. This is also the first time that Canada has won an Olympic gold medal outside of North America since it captured the gold in Oslo in 1952. It is Canada's ninth Olympic gold.

How they did it: Canada was the best defensive team in the tournament, surrendering just four goals in six games. In the medal round, the Canadians played their last eight periods without giving up a goal. Canada's defense was strong, but it was a team defensive effort. Often, the Canadians had all three forwards in the defensive zone.

Turning point: When Sidney Crosby beat Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist on a breakaway at 16:43 of the second period to give Canada a 2-0 lead that certainly had to demoralize the Swedes. They knew that scoring three goals against Canada would be a difficult assignment. It was Crosby's first goal of the tournament. But he maintained his reputation as a player who rises up in big games. He scored the game-winner in overtime in the gold medal game in 2010 and then he delivers a back-breaker against Sweden in the 2014 gold medal game.His linemate, Chris Kunitz, scored at 9:04 of the third period to put the game out of reach.

Underlying issues: Already playing without key forward Henrik Zetterberg and Henrik Sedin, the Swedes lost Nicklas Backstrom for the gold medal game. Yahoo reported that he sat out the game because he took an allergy medication that contained a banned substance. The Swedes weren't strong enough down the middle to give the Canadians a strong challenge.

Unsung heroes: The big question was whether Canada's goaltending would be good enough and Carey Price ended up with the tournament's best numbers. He stopped more than 97% of all of the shots he faced. He was a consistently strong performer throughout the Games. Jeff Carter was supposed to be a role player, but he had three goals and five points and was plus-7 in the tournament.

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