SOCHI, Russia — Sidney Crosby again proved that he’s a big-time, big-game scorer.
Crosby, held without a goal in Canada’s first five games at the Sochi Olympics hockey tournament, scored on a breakaway in the second period of Sunday’s gold medal game against Sweden to cement Canada’s 3-0 victory at the Bolshoy Ice dome and clinch its second consecutive Olympic title.
Crosby scored the “golden goal” at Vancouver in 2010, scoring in overtime against the U.S. This time, Canada didn’t need to go to sudden-death play to become the first repeat men’s Olympic champion since the old Soviet Union teams won in 1984 and 1988.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored in the first period — set up by Kings forward Jeff Carter — and Crosby extended the lead to 2-0 in the second. Chris Kunitz added an insurance goal in the third, after a giveaway by Sweden’s Daniel Sedin.
Goaltender Carey Price of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens stopped 24 shots Sunday to earn his second straight shutout for Canada, which had thoroughly outplayed the U.S. in a 1-0 semifinal victory.
Eleven players on Team Canada became two-time gold medalists, including Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Kings forward Jeff Carter won his first Olympic gold medal.
Canada got better game by game in Sochi, the goal stated by just about every player and coach in this tournament but one that only Coach Mike Babcock and his players could pull off. That helped the Canadian men win their first gold medal outside of North America since the 1952 Oslo Games.
Canada allowed only three goals in defeating Norway, Austria, Finland, Latvia, the U.S. and previously unbeaten Sweden.
The Swedes, depleted by injuries, lost center Nicklas Backstrom from their lineup shortly before the game. Although the reason was said to be a migraine headache, Yahoo! Sports, quoting a source in the NHL Players’ Assn., reported that Backstrom had tested positive for a banned substance and was pulled from the team’s locker room.
After a close call for each side, Canada broke through to score the game’s first goal, at 12:55 of the first period.
A smart pinch by defenseman Shea Weber kept the play going in Sweden’s zone. Weber passed the puck to Carter, who made a perfectly timed pass to Toews, who had gotten behind defender Patrik Berglund. Toews didn’t miss from short range, scoring his first goal of the Olympic tournament.
Toews also scored for Canada in the 2010 gold medal game at Vancouver, for those seeking omens.
And for another omen: Crosby’s breakaway gave Canada a more secure 2-0 lead at 15:43 of the second period. He made the play possible by stealing the puck from Jonathan Ericsson in the neutral zone and then dashed up the left side before switching to his backhand and sliding the puck past Lundqvist.
Canada’s third goal scorer in the 2010 championship game was Perry, incidentally. He didn’t score on Sunday against Sweden, but thanks to Price’s goaltending and Canada’s strong defensive play, its production proved more than enough.