SI.com's Allan Muir blogs the action from USA-Canada in the gold medal game.
Postgame: There are going to be a lot of words spilled over the next few hours talking about this tournament, and this game in particular. For Canadians, it's a moment of glory that will be made sweeter by how the game was won and the victim that was vanquished. Sidney Crosby? Well, he could hang up his skates now and be revered by his countrymen for as long as the game is played. For Americans, it's a heartbreaking loss but, put in perspective, it was a remarkable journey that extended far longer than anyone outside of their room expected it to. Losing gold will sting these players for the rest of their lives, but their efforts served to prove that American hockey is in a golden age. Games like this are becoming the norm rather than the exception and that's something that all American fans can take solace in.
Postgame: My Three Stars: 1. Sidney Crosby: Biggest goal in Canadian hockey since Paul Henderson in 1972. 2. Scott Niedermayer: An absolutely massive game on the back end. 3. Ryan Miller: Team USA would have been blown out were it not for about a dozen amazing saves he made in the second and third.
OT, 12:20: CROSBY SCORES! GOLD CANADA!!! Iginla wins a battle in the corner against two defenders, finds Crosby in the slot who sends a wrister under Miller's pads. The goal comes at 7:40 of OT. Final: Canada 3, USA 2.
OT, 14:00: Six minutes gone in OT. Better of the chances to Canada so far. Very curious about my blood pressure reading at the moment.
OT, 15:50: Iginla gets a feed out front from Niedermayer and watches as itflutters away.
OT, 16:10: Completely different energies on the two benches. Canada looks tense, the Americans loose and confident.
OT, 19:10: Long bomb attempt to Jamie Langenbrunner just skittered out of his reach and went down for the icing.
OT, 20:00: And we're off. Remember, it's four on four for OT.
3rd Intermission: Canada fully deserved it's fate. Terribly lax play in the third as they abandoned any pretense of pushing the play and settled into a fatal defensive cocoon. The question now: do they have any spirit left to come out of it? Heaven knows the Americans will come out to start OT, as Ilya Bryzgalov said, like gorillas out of the cage. Possible OT heroes? I'll take Ryan Kesler for Team USA and Eric Staal for Team Canada. The media's tournament all-star team was just announced: Ryan Miller, Brian Rafalski, Shea Weber, Pavol Demitra, Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise. MVP, Ryan Miller.
End of 3rd, Canada 2, USA 2: Luongo had it in his glove and fumbled it away. Unbelievable. This has had the feel of inevitability for the last 15 minutes. Seems like only a matter of time fore the Americans now. There's the end of regulation. It'll be 20 minutes of sudden death.
3rd, 0:24: GOAL TEAM USA 2-2 with 24.4 seconds left. Looks like Zach Parise. Total chaos in front of the net. It's Parise from Langenbrunner and Kane at 19:35. Canada 2, USA 2
3rd, 1:05: Another face-off to the right of Luongo. Team Canada takes their time-out.
3rd, 1:17: Team USA dominating the puck in Canada's zone, smart play by Wilson to get the extra man out there and tilt the offensive balance. Team USA calls their time-out with 1:17 left in the third.
3rd, 1:30: Miller to the bench with 1:30 left.
3rd, 2:02: Canada barely sending in one forechecker when they manage to dump the puck down the ice.
3rd, 3:05: Canada changing up its lines, Morrow out there now with Staal and Crosby. Crosby comes in on a breakaway, but never truly gets control of the puck. It slides to Miller who shovels it off. Less than three minutes to play.
3rd, 4:15: Canada continues to play rope-a-dope hockey. Almost killed them in the Slovakia game, but they have no other options right now against the hard-charging Americans.
3rd, 5:15: Brian Rafalski has a glorious chance snuffed out by Luongo! He races in from the point to pick up a Patrick Kane pass, but he can't find the back of the net. Five minutes remaining.
3rd, 6:21: Canada starting to lay back a bit as the Americans are coming in waves.
3rd, 7:25: That American surge is definitely underway. Great shift by Zach Parise led to two quality chances for Team USA. Still 2-1 Canada with just over 7:30 to play in the third.
3rd, 8:40: Just got another look at the Heatley chances. Unbelievable that a scorer of his caliber couldn't bury those. Keep those stops in mind.
3rd, 9:10: Despite that chance, things are starting to swing in favor of Team USA. You get the sense that a surge is coming for the Americans.
3rd, 9:30: Miller makes three ridiculous saves, stoning Patrick Marleau once and Dany Heatley twice in close. He's doing his job, but he needs some help on the scoreboard.
3rd, 10:46: Wilson shortening the bench, but it looks like he's pulled Bobby Ryan off the fourth line and put him on the third line, hoping to use that big body as an implement of destruction down low in the Canadian zone.
3rd, 12:07: Babcock relyng heavily on Pronger and Niedermayer already in the third. Ron Wilson tapping Rafalski and Suter every other shift.
3rd, 13:17: Crosby line gets the cycle working but still can't generate a shot after 30 seconds of puck control.
3rd, 15:25: Miller a game-saving stop on Corey Perry after Brenden Morrow sets him up for a chip shot in the slot.
3rd, 15:58: Team Canada dominating the play through the first few minutes but they haven't landed a shot on net.
3rd, 16:35: Hard to tell who is sweating more at this point--the players or the fans.
3rd, 18:15: Pronger hits the goal post! Team USA continues to get all the breaks this afternoon.
3rd, 19:10: Shea Weber hits the goal post! Miller had no idea where that puck was.
3rd, 20:00: Third period underway. Crosby line against Kesler. Just told that liquor sales in Vancouver will be suspended in five minutes.
2nd intermission: Hey, if you're Team USA you have to love this situation. If they'd been told at the start of the Olympics that they'd be heading into the third period of the gold medal match down one, they'd have taken their chances. Look for them to storm out of the gates in the third in an effort to tie it up early and take advantage of a Canadian goalie who isn't doing much to soothe the jangled nerves of his countrymen with some sloppy puck control.
End of 2nd, Canada 2, USA 1: And there's the buzzer. The second period ends with the score 2-1 for Canada. Ryan Suter leading all Americans with 14:51 of ice through two. Ryan Whitney may as well go get showered up. With just 2:57 through two, there's no chance he's seeing the ice in the third period of a one-goal game. Jonathan Toews with less than nine minutes for Canada. Mike Babcock must be seeing something I'm not--the only center I'd want out more right now is Crosby. All told, 15 shots for each team in the period, Canada leads overall 25-23.
2nd, 0:33: Dan Boyle sends a stretch pass to Eric Staal, he breaks in alone and shoots wide in the final minute. What a turning point that could have been!
2nd, 1:01: Pucks are really staring to bounce at both ends of the ice. You get the sense someone's about to get a lucky break.
2nd, 2:22: At the other end, Miller lays on the ice helplessly as an Eric Staal shot bounces off his pads high in the air and hangs there for an eternity. Eventually lands at his feet and he covers up. Quality of chances picking up as both teams simplify their games and just start driving the net.
2nd, 3:40: Another scary "save" by Luongo who stops an Erik Johnson point blast with his glove but can't hold on. Team USA is buzzing the Canadian zone.
2nd: 4:35: Shades of the Brett Hull high stick that deflected in the winning goal for Team USA in the 1996 World Cup!
2nd, 5:08: Pace has definitely increased and the chances are coming at both ends of the ice.
2nd, 6:10: Just saw a replay of the Kesler goal...clearly shouldn't have counted. Dustin Brown was offside by about two feet on the play leading up to the deflection. Nice break for the Americans.
2nd, 7:14: GOAL TEAM USA Rough goal for Luongo to give up. Exactly what Canada's been fearing. Ryan Kesler deflects a Patrick Kane wrister from the sideboards. Kane the only assist. Canada 2, USA 1
2nd, 7:45: Joe Thornton throws the body in the defensive end. Someone mark the tape!
2nd, 8:33: Crosby line is out now for Canada. They've been quiet to this point...at some point they have to make their presence felt. Miller just made a key stop on a Dan Boyle point blast. The puck lay loose at his feet for a moment with Jarome Iginlas towering over him, but Miller was able to slap a glove on it and get a stoppage.
2nd, 9:55: Stastny line gets tremendous pressure in the Canadian zone but the power play is over. Two shots for the Americans.
2nd, 10:47: Fantastic effort by Rick Nash to break up an American chance at the blueline. Unless you watch the Blue Jackets regularly, you don't realize what an effective presence he is on the penalty kill.
2nd, 11:13: Just got another look at the goal. Whitney didn't skate by the puck so much as he was turned around and unable to make a play on it. It was Whitney who knocked down the pass in the first place. POWER PLAY TEAM USA. Jonathan Toews gets two for tripping. Just over 11 minutes left in the second.
2nd, 12:47: GOAL TEAM CANADA Corey Perry picks up a loose puck and wrists it over Miller's glove from 10 feet out. The puck ended up in the middle of the slot after a Ryan Getzlaf pass is knocked down and Ryan Whitney skates by it. Assists go to Getzlaf and Duncan Keith. Canada 2, USA 0.
2nd, 13:10: Even strength. Two shots for the Americans, no real scoring chances on their first power play.
2nd, 13:50: Pronger blasts Zach Parise in the back, steals the puck and clears the zone. Power play has less than 30 seconds to go.
2nd, 14:40: POWER PLAY TEAM USA. Eric Staal feels shame. Two for interference.
2nd, 15:05: Someone get Chris Drury a couple of ice bags...he's blocked at least three shots on this PK.
2nd, 15:40: Sharks line controls the puck in the American zone, but Team USA uses their bodies and sticks to negate Canada's chances.
2nd, 17:30: POWER PLAY TEAM CANADA. Ryan Malone sits for two after butt ending Corey Perry in the mush.
2nd, 18:35: Shea Weber back out with Scott Niedermayer on Canada's back end after being replaced by Chris Pronger for a couple shifts at the end of the first.
2nd, 20:00: Biggest difference so far between this game and the preliminary match-up? Luongo's puck handling foibles didn't end up in the back of the net as Martin Brodeur's did. And the puck drops on the second period. Toews line up against Stastny's unit.
Start of 2nd: A friend out front of the building just texted that a ticket will still cost at least $1,500. Not much of a discount for two-thirds of a game.
End of 1st, Canada 1, USA 0: And there's the end of the first period, with Canada holding a 1-0 lead. Team USA gets one last chance at Luongo after Ryan Callahan beats Duncan Keith to a bouncing puck at the American blueline, but the goalie easily gobbles it up. Nothing comes out of the gathering of the clans at the end of the period after both sides exchange pleasantries. Nice job by the officials. As I noted earlier, they're going to let the boys play. First period shots favor Canada, 10-8.
1st, 1:34: Staal gets off another shot, forcing Miller to make a glove stop. Face-off to his right with just under two minutes to go. Crosby line stays on against the Kesler unit. Stastny finally beats him on the draw.
1st, 2:21: Play is definitely starting to swing in Canada's favor as the period winds down. Just under three minutes remaining.
1st, 3:35: Eric Staal breaks free thanks to a Crosby pass, but Miller stands up to his backhand bid. Power play is over, both teams skating five to a side.
1st, 4:40: One minute gone in the PP, Canada kept it deep in the zone but failed to get off a shot. Crosby unit out now for Canada.
1st, 5:33: POWER PLAY CANADA. Bobby Ryan goes for tripping Dany Heatley in the offensive zone. Getzlaf line starts the PP for Canada.
1st, 5:58: First time Team USA has trailed in the tournament. Remember that Team USA scored first in the 2002 gold medal match.
1st, 6:05: That's Toews' first goal of the tournament, but he's tied with Brian Rafalski as the leading set-up man.
1st: 7:10: GOAL CANADA Jonathan Toews 1-0 Canada. Canada's best forward in the series scores the huge opening goal. Mike Richards steals the puck down low, Miller makes the first stop but Toews is there to bury the rebound. Goal comes at 12:50 of the first. Canada 1, USA 0.
1st, 7:35: Fantastic backcheck by David Backes to strip Eric Staal of a chance as he enters the American zone. He's making an early contribution at both ends.
1st, 8:51: Pace has been fast but not exactly furious to this point. Team USA seems to be doing a better job of establishing a forecheck. Canada seems content to counterpunch. Pretty curious strategy considering the talent disparity in their favor.
1st, 9:42: Dustin Brown drives hard to the net and gets an in-tight wrister in on Luongo. The puck lays loose in the crease for a second before it was covered up.
1st, 10:33: Canada with a premium chance after David Backes' stick breaks in the defensive zone. Miller steps in front of a Rick Nash wrister to keep the game scoreless just ahead of the 10-minute mark of the first period.
1st, 11:09: Great support on both sides of the puck. It's amazing how quickly loose pucks are being gobbled up by the defensive team, eliminating any quality score chances. Dany Heatley was just nailed into the Team USA bench by Brooks Orpik. Best hit of the early going.
1st, 11:56: Patrick Kane showing some good wheels early on, dancing through three zones before being bullied off to the side of the Canadian net.
1st, 13:20: Defenders on both sides are jumping into the play early as both teams look to score the critical first goal.
1st, 13:33: Luongo with his second giveaway of the game, sweeping one along the boards right to Jamie Langenbrunner. He's got to watch that or the Americans will make him pay (just as Miikka Kiprusoff).
1st, 14:37: Canadians are scrambling in their end. Wide open play early on as the Americans establish their forecheck.
1st, 15:33: Canada blows a four-on-two with one pass too many. You think they'd have learned that lesson already.
1st, 16:58: Roberto Luongo looks sharp early, handling a scary bounce off those springy boards.
1st, 17:40: Looks like the refs are going to let them play. Ryan Getzlaf just leveled Ryan Malone from behind with a cross check.
1st, 18:25: Ryan Miller makes the first stop of the afternoon, deflecting a point blast from Duncan Keith into the seats.
1st, 19:05: Ryan Kesler's line is out against the Sidney Crosby unit. Look for Ron Wilson to line match this afternoon.
1st, 19:25: Mike Richards tries to throw the first big hit...and flies into the boards.
1st period, 20:00: Opening face-off...Paul Stastny and Jonathan Toews. Here we go!
Pregame (1 minute until faceoff): The Canadians are on the ice...and the crowd is testing the structural integrity of the Canada Hockey Place roof.
Pregame (4 minutes until faceoff): Sign spotted in the crowd: "I prefer Canadian beer to Miller." Not bad ...
Pregame (5 minutes until faceoff): Gordie Howe's in the house. Crowd swinging (no surprise) about 85 percent Canadian. I'm not sure which way this thing will go, but I have to go against the grain. Something tells me this game is not going to be close. I'm thinking a three, maybe four-goal margin of victory here.
Pregame: The front page of today's Globe and Mail sports section tells you all you need to know.
ONE GAME, OUR GAME
In the biggest hockey tournament ever, Team USA and Team Canada play in the most important hockey game ever contested on Canadian soil. It's nothing less than world hockey supremacy at stake, and it will be the most watched sporting event in the history of the host country.
In Canada, there is cause for concern: One week ago the U.S. defeated Canada 5-3, a loss that prompted the Team Canada's goaltending switch from Martin Brodeur to Roberto Luongo. U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller heads into the game with a 1.04 goals-against average, tops in the tournament. If the surprising U.S. team wins the gold, they will be the first team to win every game in the men's hockey tournament since the Soviet Union in 1988. Keep this in mind: The last time a host team won Olympic gold in men's hockey? The United States in 1980.
SI's Michael Farber predicts the Canadians will eke out the win today. "Before the Olympics began, I picked Team Canada to win the tournament," says Farber. So with the Canadians in the gold-medal game, should I turtle now? (I had Team USA for a bronze.) The Americans should be favored, based on their stellar win over Finland, whippet-like speed, an admirable cohesion and the superior play of goalie Ryan Miller. If Team USA can withstand the anticipated Canadian onslaught as it did in the 5-3 round-robin win against the host nation -- double the numbers of shots and scoring chances -- it should prevail. But in Canada's game, this is Canada's time. Say, 4-3."