The United States hockey team, competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, upset tournament favorite and home side Canada on Sunday night, in a 5-3 thriller of a game.
A young American squad, led by three olympic veterans all scoring goals on the great Canadian goaltender Marty Brodeur (New Jersey Devils) including defenseman Brian Rafalski (Detroit Redwings), Chris Drury (New York Rangers), and Jamie Langdenbrunner (New Jersey Devils), fought off a Canadian side that tied the game twice and stayed close throughout the game.
Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) made 42 saves in a lights-out performance that included a bevy of incredible stops, including the save of the tournament in flurry of the dying minutes while the Americans were hanging on to a 4-3 lead before Phil Kesler (Vancouver Canucks) whacked in the game-clinching goal on the empty net.
The Canadians seemed to be cruising through the first two periods, content with turning on the burners when they had to in order to tie the game through Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes) and again through Danny Heatley (San Jose Sharks), who leads the tournament with 4 goals along with USA’s Rafalski, who netted two in this game.
The Americans led at every intermission, 2-1 after the first period and 3-2 after the second, but the viewer always felt that the depth of talent on Canada’s roster suggested they could turn on the pressure whenever they wanted to. Unfortunately for them, it came too late.
Canada began the third period needing to kill off three consecutive penalties and the U.S. capitalized making it 4-2 with just under 13 minutes left. The Canadian’s finally kicked into gear and the firing squad escalated on U.S. goalie Miller. While one goal by Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) did slip by, Miller was up to the task, however, and made several amazing saves to preserve victory for the red, white, and blue.
This border matchup was sure to be a bruiser and it didn’t disappoint as the two squads made up entirely of NHL players left it all on the ice. There was hard skating, huge hits, and immense passion on display as the teams battled for the top slot in Group A.
The spoils of the game for USA, are a first round bye in the playoffs where they will meet the winner of a game between Switzerland and Belarus. Canada will face Germany for the right to face another arch-rival; the Russians.