Rick Nash and Team Canada will have the chance to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in men's ice hockey after the Canadians beat the United States, 1-0, in a thrilling semifinal contest on Friday. Canada will face Sweden in the Gold Medal Game Sunday in Sochi, with Nash battling his Ranger teammates Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin.
The United States, featuring Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, and Derek Stepan of the Rangers, will square off with Finland on Saturday for the bronze medal.
The only goal of this game was scored 1:41 into the second period as Canada's Jamie Benn redirected a Jay Bouwmeester pass behind U.S. goaltender Jonathan Quick, though both teams had numerous scoring chances throughout. Quick turned in an excellent 36-save performance, but he was bested by Canada's Carey Price who shut out the United States with a stellar 31-save outing.
"They were just a little bit better, on more pucks, had the puck more than we did with their great team speed," Callahan told NBC's Pierre McGuire after the game. "It's tough."
Nash, who just missed wide of the net on a prime scoring chance off the rush late in the second period, played nine minutes 32 seconds Friday and did not record an official shot on goal. He was a member of the 2010 Canadian squad that won a gold medal in Vancouver, and will be seeking his second gold on Sunday where he will go head-to-head against two of his Blueshirts brothers on Team Sweden, just as he did against Callahan and McDonagh on Friday (Stepan was a healthy scratch).
Both Callahan and McDonagh gave typically big-time efforts despite the defeat, as evidenced by Callahan's pair of blocked shots during a crucial U.S. penalty kill late in the third period in which the Rangers captain flung himself in front of incoming shots on both occasions. Callahan logged 12:34 worth of ice time and did not record a shot on goal. He was on ice for Benn's score for Canada, and spent much of the game helping shut down the Canadians top line centered by Sidney Crosby.
McDonagh again was second on Team USA in total ice-time, playing 23 minutes 23 seconds, and, like Callahan, was deployed often against Crosby's line.
Despite the gritty effort of McDonagh, Callahan, and the rest of Team USA, Canada controlled much of the game's flow and had the better of the puck posession and scoring chances throughout. The U.S., which entered the game as the tournament's highest-scoring team, did secure some prime opportunities to score, but when they did they were thwarted by a rock solid Price.
Friday's results--including Sweden's 2-1 win over Finland--guarantee at least one Ranger will bring home a gold medal from Sochi and at least one will win a silver. Should Team USA beat Finland on Saturday, then Ranger players will have secured all three medals.
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