Canada defenceman Drew Doughty

Canada opens Olympic men’s hockey with win over Norway

SOCHI, Russia — Team Canada didn’t take the ice for pre-game warm-ups until six minutes after Norway. Then the Canadians were late with their A-game, too. Once they found a groove, though, they ran roughshod over Norway on the way to a 3-1 victory in their opening game of the Olympic hockey tournament Thursday at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

SOCHI, Russia — Team Canada didn’t take the ice for pre-game warm-ups until six minutes after Norway. Then the Canadians were late with their A-game, too.

Once they found a groove, though, they ran roughshod over Norway on the way to a 3-1 victory in their opening game of the Olympic hockey tournament Thursday at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

After a jagged start full of inconsistent play and mistakes, Canada dominated in the second period and eventually produced offence to show for it. Shea Weber and Jamie Benn scored during that onslaught and Drew Doughty added a goal in the third period.

Former NHL forward Patrick Thoresen scored Norway’s only goal by tipping Mathis Olimb’s shot, making Canada nervous for just a short time early in the third.

Goaltender Carey Price, who faced only two shots in the second period, finished with 19 saves on 20 shots to the win in his Olympic debut.

Roberto Luongo is set to start Friday’s game against Austria.

Coach Mike Babcock said after his team’s morning skate that “we’ll fix our problems tomorrow.” One of those problems Canada hopes it doesn’t repeat is the start it had against Norway.

From the drop of the puck, Canada was out of sorts. Pucks bounced over sticks and a couple of offside calls on an early power play created some frustration.

Even as the speed and talent advantage was evident on the first couple of shifts as Jonathan Toews blew by the Norwegian defence to get to a loose puck and Sidney Crosby had no trouble winning a puck battle, everything seemed to be a struggle. Canada’s players and Babcock knew Norway was a scrappy bunch that played well as a five-man unit, and that showed while the defending champions were going through some first-game growing pains.

Canada failed to get the puck into prime scoring areas, making the possibility of getting quality shots very difficult. Finishing the first period with nine shots to Norway’s eight, Canada was stymied by goaltender Lars Haugen (35 saves), who was playing his first game since Dec. 8 because of a lower-body injury.

Haugen was helpless once the game turned out of the first intermission. Suddenly it was like Canada found its ability to handle the puck, cycling it around in the offensive zone and hemming Norway in.

It was only a matter of time before Canada would break through, and then it happened seconds after Benn drew a delayed penalty. Duncan Keith found Weber at the point, and the big alternate captain fired a howitzer of a shot through traffic and into the net 6:20 into the period.

Canada took longer to get on the board against Norway this time than four years ago when it also put up a zero in the first period before Jarome Iginla scored 2:30 into the second. In Vancouver, the final score was 8-0.

This wasn’t that kind of domination, though it could have been based on the second period. In total Canada had 14 shots to Norway’s two, and it made the score 2-0 at the 15:19 mark when Benn fired a perfect shot past Haugen.

Norway didn’t pick up its first shot of the period until the 18:06 mark, and that was on a dump-in to get a line change. Price wasn’t seriously tested until early in the third.

With Keith in the penalty box for holding, Olimb picked Price’s pocket when the goalie mishandled the puck behind the net and found space in the faceoff circle. Olimb’s shot deflected off Thoresen and beat Price short side 22 seconds into the third, leading to cheers from many of the Russian fans who spent the night rooting against Canada.

It was Norway’s first goal against Canada at the Olympics since 1984, when it lost 8-1.

That cut the lead to 2-1 and put a scare into Canada. It was short-lived as Doughty weaved through the Norwegian defence and lifted a back-handed shot over Haugen’s right shoulder at the 1:47 mark.

Canada got a power play later in the third but couldn’t muster anymore offence. In beating Norway by just two goals, it finished behind the United States (six), Finland (four) and Russia (three) and tied with Sweden in goal differential through one game.

Goal differential is the first tiebreaker for determining seeding after group play.

NOTES — Forward Matt Duchene, defenceman P.K. Subban and goaltender Mike Smith were scratched for Canada. Babcock said Duchene and Subban would play in the second game against Austria. … Norway’s Mats Trygg left the ice in pain after blocking a shot in the third period. … The attendance was announced as 10,261. … Canada-Norway was the third game of the day at Bolshoy Ice Dome, following Finland’s victory over Austria and Russia’s over Slovenia.

Just Posted

Red Deer property taxes to go up 2.15 per cent in 2019

City council approves $369.8 million budget

Sylvan Lake council approves concept plan for new park

Pogadl Park will eventally be home to numerous ball diamonds and sports fields

One person dead after collision on Highway 2A

Pickup truck and grain truck collided on Highway 2A south of Carstairs

Updated: Trial stalls for man accused in fatal Canada Day 2016 crash

Defence lawyer argued relevant information received only hours before trial to begin

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

UPDATE: B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Shooter pleads guilty to manslaughter in Stettler

A Stettler man charged with second-degree murder has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.… Continue reading

Kentucky canoe outfit borrows photo of Trudeau family to market business

They are in a red canoe, all clad in life jackets, and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Ella-Grace are waving

Police chief confirms all three Ottawa bus victims were on board when it crashed

OTTAWA — All three people killed in last week’s deadly bus accident… Continue reading

Theresa May wins no-confidence vote after Brexit deal rejection

UK PM can keep her job, after House of Commons voted 325-306

Alberta doctor accused of sexual assault asked to voluntarily give up practice

College says Dr. Barry Wollach should discontinue his practice, given the seriousness of the allegation against him

Speedy acceptance of Saudi shows refugee system’s flaws

Who would not wish Rahaf Mohammed well? The 18-year-old Saudi wants to… Continue reading

Most Read