In their loss to the Americans on Sunday night, the Canadians looked arrogant. They didn't play with fire from the opening puck drop and the scrappy USA team made them pay. In their convincing victory over Russia tonight at Canada Hockey Place, they corrected those mistakes.
From the get go, Canada was all over Russia. Ovechkin, Malkin and company didn't even have a prayer. They peppered Russian goaltender Evgeni Nabokov with shots, and just two minutes, 21 seconds in they proved that this game would be different than the one with the Americans. Ryan Getzlaf scored to give Canada a 1-0 lead and the home team (even though Russia was technically the home team) would never look back.
Two more Canadian goals would hit the scoreboard before the Russians even showed any semblance of an offensive attack. Down 3-0 and in desperate need of a response, Russia did just that. Dimitri Kalinin unleashed a bomb of a shot that beat Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo to cut the lead to 3-1. That's as close as the Russians would get, though.
Brendan Morrow, a depth player on this Canadian team who hasn't seen much ice time, scored before the first period ran out to give his team the three goal lead back. He basically ran Nabokov over to get the puck into the net after wheeling around from behind the cage, and it was then that Russia probably should have pulled their goaltender.
They didn't, however; nor did they pull him when the second period began. Corey Perry and Shea Weber changed that rather quickly. Nabokov lasted just four minutes, seven seconds into the second before he was relieved by Ilya Bryzgalov. For a split second, it appeared that the move may have sparked the Russians. Maxim Afinogenov scored just 39 seconds later to make the score 6-2 with plenty of time left for the potent Russian offense to get their business straight.
But that just never happened. Hope quickly dwindled as the time ticked away. Perry scored again and Sergei Gonchar answered on the power play before the second period would wind down, but that would be the end of the scoring.
If there are two names you have noticed yet, it's not a blatant disregard for Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. Both were rather invisible tonight, putting up a few zeroes on the scoreboard. It's the continuation of a relatively weak tournament for Crosby, and for Ovechkin, it was just a mediocre game.
Canada tightened up defensively in the third period and didn't allow Russia to get many quality chances. All in all, Russia just played a terrible offensive game. In the few chances they had in actually controlling the puck, they simply did nothing with it. That was partly due to Canada's domination of this game in every aspect and partly because they just looked flat out terrible. The display Russia put on tonight wasn't a medal winning performance. It was, putting it bluntly, pathetic.
On the flip side, Canada proved that if they get out ahead and they have the crowd behind them, they're basically unstoppable. If there's anything to take out of this game moving forward in the tournament, it's this one fact. If you want to beat the Canadians in this tournament, you have to take control of the game early.
Russia goes home. They'll no doubt ponder this loss for the next few years and they'll do everything they can do get revenge on their own home ice in Sochi come 2014. Meanwhile, Canada moves on to face the winner of the Slovakia-Sweden quarterfinal, taking place late on Wednesday night.