VANCOUVER, British Columbia --
Everybody on their feet for the last 30 seconds. Canada wins it, 7-3. As the team salutes the crowd with the stick raise, this place erupts. To wrap it up here, this was the kind of game Canada needed. Lots of scoring, solid if not spectacular goaltending, and a huge win, taking out the other titans in the tournament and doing it with seeming ease. Canada ended up outshooting the Russians, 42-28, and this time, it was definitely good enough. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf were big, nasty and dominated. Toews, Richards and Nash kept the Russians big-name scorers at bay, and Russia, even with all its swagger, books the early ticket home. Next up for Canada will be the winner of Sweden-Slovakia, which will kick off here in a few hours, but the Canadian fans were clear: They want Sweden, the reigning Olympic gold medalists.
Now that the biggest, most anticipated game is done, Canada is about to kick off one heck of a party. Check SI.com soon for commentary from Michael Farber and S.L. Price.
The tickets outside of Canada Hockey Place are going for as much as $2,000 a pop, and 30 minutes before the puck drops, the lower bowl is nearly full. The Russian team, which has had a boisterous following on most nights here in Vancouver, came out to booing; they won't feel much love tonight. Here are your lineups.
Things to watch for are how Russia will use the last change, and what matchups they'll be looking for. Will coach Vyacheslav Bykov look to match Ovie vs. Sid? If so, he should know that in the seven-game playoff between the Penguins and Capitals last spring, the games where the two superstars were on the ice together the most were the ones the Penguins won. Roberto Luongo and Evgeni Nabakov in nets. Here's an interesting bit. Ovechkin vs. Luongo lifetime: 2 goals and 2 assists in four games, but hasn't had a point on him since 2007. Crosby vs. Nabokov: 0 goals, 1 assist in 2 games.
This might be the best game of hockey we see for the rest of the tournament, which is sort of a shame, but hey, I'm just going to embrace it. Let The Game begin!