SOCHI, Russia -- It might have lacked the emotional oomph of the 2010 golden overtime goal by Sidney Crosby, but Canada successfully defended its gold medal with a dominating 3-0 win over a gritty, but ultimately undermanned, Swedish team Sunday to bring the Sochi Olympic tournament to a close.
Five things we learned:
1. Canada won with suffocating defense: It would have been impossible to recreate the drama of the U.S.-Canada final of four years ago, when the Americans tied the game late and Crosby won it in overtime in front of a rabid home crowd. But this effort by Canada might have been even more impressive given its absolute defensive domination throughout the tournament, but especially in its semifinal and gold-medal wins. The Canadians shut down the U.S., the highest-scoring team heading into the semifinals, 1-0 on Friday and then choked the life out of the Swedes, who had the most dangerous power play in the tournament. Canada allowed zero goals over the final two games in what can only be described as a masterful performance. The Canadians become the first nation to win back-to-back gold medals in men's hockey since the Soviet Union did so in 1984 and 1988. The gold-medal win for Canada marks the first time they have won a gold outside North America in 62 years (last came in Oslo in 1952). It also marks the first time since NHL players started competing in the Olympics in 1998 that a North American men's hockey team has won a medal of any kind overseas, let alone a gold. So much for the notion that the Canadians would struggle to adjust to the big ice. They allowed just three goals in the tournament. How good is that? One of the popular questions heading into Sunday's game was whether the Swedes could tame the Canadian beast. The notion goes back four years to the Canadians' dominating quarterfinal win over the Russians after which Russian netminder Ilya Bryzgalov famously noted that the Canadians "came like gorillas from the cage." That line was resurrected in recent days and the question was: Could anyone put the animal back in the cage? The answer Canada provided Sunday was a resounding no.