WEBER’S LATE GOAL SENDS CANADA TO OLYMPIC SEMIFINALS
SOCHI, Russia – Shea Weber (Sicamous, B.C./Nashville, NHL) scored the game-winning goal with 6:54 to go in the third period as Canada’s Men’s Olympic Team moved on to the semifinals at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games with a 2-1 win over Latvia on Wednesday.
Canada will face the United States in Friday’s late semifinal (noon ET/9 a.m. PT), a rematch of the 2010 Olympic gold medal game, won 3-2 in overtime by the Canadians.
Sweden and Finland will meet in the other semifinal.
Patrick Sharp (Thunder Bay, Ont./Chicago, NHL) had the other goal for Canada, while Carey Price (Anahim Lake, B.C./Montreal, NHL) made 15 saves to record his third win in as many starts.
The Canadians got the scoring started at the 13:37 mark of the opening period; Rick Nash (Brampton, Ont./New York Rangers, NHL) corralled the puck in front and circled the net before finding Sharp, who one-timed a shot past the outstretched glove of Latvian goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis for a 1-0 lead.
But the European side answered back just 2:04 later with a little trickery. After Janis Sprukts won a neutral zone face-off, a Latvian defenceman quickly changed and forward Lauris Darzins jumped out the opposite door, taking a breakaway pass from Arturs Kulda and lifting a backhand over a sprawling Price.
Frustrated time and time again by Gudlevskis, the Canadian offence suffered a big loss in the second period when John Tavares (Oakville, Ont./New York Islanders, NHL) left the game with an injury; head coach Mike Babcock confirmed after the game that Tavares would miss the rest of the tournament.
Canada held a commanding 35-11 advantage in shots on goal after two periods, but Gudlevskis was single-handedly keeping his team in the game, making big save after big save.
The Canadians continued their offensive barrage in period three, racking up 22 shots on Gudlevskis, while the Latvians managed just five on Price.
But it took until the 19th shot of the final frame, and 54th of the game, for Canada to finally break through; with the Canadians enjoying a man advantage, Weber played give-and-go with Drew Doughty (London, Ont./Los Angeles, NHL) at the point before blasting his third goal of the tournament past Gudlevskis.
Through four games, Weber and Doughty have combined for seven goals, while the rest of the Canadian roster has six.
The 21-year-old Gudlevskis was undoubtedly the star of the game, finishing with an astounding 55 saves.