Canada keep Olympic crown
2:54pm Sunday 23rd February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Canada retained their Winter Olympic ice hockey title with a convincing 3-0 win over Sweden at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi.
Goals from Jonathan Toews, captain Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz made it three gold medals in the last four Olympics for the Canadians, thus polishing their credentials as the world's top hockey nation.
However, Mike Babcock's side would surely have expected more of a game from their opponents although they started much the busier team against a highly-fancied Canada team who had beaten traditional rivals USA 1-0 in the semi-final.
When Carl Hagelin struck the post before Canadian netminder Carey Price gratefully grasped at the puck to end the danger, it looked like the Swedes were in the mood to cause an upset.
However, Canada slowly asserted themselves and Patrice Bergeron also hit the upright before they edged in front.
After 12 minutes and 55 seconds of the first period, Toews, the 25-year-old Chicago Blackhawks captain, sneaked them ahead and they may have added a second only for Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to foil Matt Duchene.
Sweden's Jonathan Ericsson had a two-minute spell in the sin bin for holding with Kunitz also sidelined for the same time for high sticking but it was a mostly unremarkable first period.
With Kunitz still serving some of his punishment at the start of the second period, Sweden swarmed around the Canadian goal but when parity of numbers was restored Canada were back on top
Sweden's Jakob Silfverberg earned himself a two-minute penalty for delay of game but Babcock's men remained imposing even if the statistics suggested a more even encounter.
There was no surprise when national hero Crosby, who grabbed the gold-medal winning goal in a unforgettable sudden-death final victory over the USA in Vancouver, 2010, made it 2-0, beat Lundqvist on a breakaway.
When Sweden's Patrik Berglund had to sit out two minutes for boarding, it hampered their chances of getting back into the game and they faced a fraught final period which quickly became stretched.
It always looked more likely Sweden would lose a third than get back in to the game and indeed Kunitz flashed the puck past Lundqvist to seal the deserved win for Canada.
Canada hero Crosby was happy that expectations had been met.
"We're really proud and we appreciate all the support, we know that there's high expectations coming in and we're glad that we could deliver," he said.
"We played solid and we didn't give anything up in the last few games.
"We played the way we needed to and it's great to see everyone get rewarded.
"Our defence was solid, so good at skating their way out of trouble we didn't have to play in our own end and, with the guys we have offensively, the more we can stay out of there the better chance we have of creating things."
Netminder Carey Price paid tribute to the men in front of him who helped keep a shutout.
"I'm just thrilled, these guys obviously worked very hard and we really wanted this and did everything it took to win it," he said.
"This team was totally dedicated to keeping the puck out of our net and we really had a relentless work ethic.
"We did it, we're so excited and looking forward to getting back home."
Sweden defender Johnny Oduya admitted that his side came up short against a "really good team."
"We didn't play up to our potential," he said.
"We had to play our best game of the tournament, but I don't think we did.
"I think they played really good. They played the style and had the game plan that they wanted.
"Obviously, the first goal for them was important. I'm not taking anything away from them. They deserved to win. We should have given them a tougher match."