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Win’s a win? Canada beats Norway 3-1

Feb 13, 2014, 2:21 PM EDT

TavaresNorway Getty Images

If hockey games were artwork, Canada’s 3-1 win over Norway on Thursday was more finger than oil painting.

In a choppy, uneven affair that lacked flow, the Canadians were in control for most of the game but failed to dominate a gritty Norwegian team featuring just one NHLer — New York’s Mats Zuccarello.

Shea Weber, Jamie Benn and Drew Doughty scored the goals for Canada — Benn notching the game-winner — while Patrice Bergeron chipped in with a pair of assists. Norway’s Patrick Thoresen scored a power play goal early in the third period to briefly cut the Canadian lead to 2-1, and goalie Lars Haugen played very well in stopping 35 of 38 shots.

For Canada, the game will probably draw scrutiny across social media platforms and from various media outlets, especially compared to the offense put up by the U.S. (7-1 win over Slovakia), Finland (8-4 over Austria) and Russia (5-2 over Slovenia). While the main mission was accomplished — open the tournament with a win — the Canadian team, loaded with NHL stars, showed little chemistry. Perhaps that’s why head coach Mike Babcock referred to his group as a “work in progress” prior to the game.

For Norway, the game could be seen as a positive on a number of fronts. It managed to avoid a blowout, which is crucial for rankings in the qualification round. Norway was outscored 19-5 in the group stage at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver — which included an 8-0 trouncing at the hands of the Canadians — so today’s result is a major improvement.

The Norwegians also showed determination and fearlessness in blocking shots, often collapsing defensively in the hopes of frustrating the Canadian shooters. On a number of occasions, it worked.

All this said, Canada was never really in danger on Thursday and carried the play for large stretches. At no point was that more evident than in the second period, when it out-shot the Norwegians 14-2 and out-scored them 2-0.

Carey Price stopped 19 of 20 shots in goal for Canada. He’ll sit next game, though, as Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo will get the start against Austria.

Notes: Doughty led all Canadian skaters with 20:41 TOI, while Benn was the low man with 8:52… Marleau led all players with five shots on goal… another ex-NHLer on the Norwegian team, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, led all players with 25:38 TOI.

  1. patthehockeyfan - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    A win is a win. Period. No question mark.

    Canada started slowly in the 1st; but, came alive afterwards.

    Three goals, two by defensemen. Way to go, Dewey!

    • blomfeld - Feb 13, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      “Doughty led all Canadian skaters with 20:41 TOI”

      ______________________________________

      Judge: would counsel for the Truth like to add anything further ?

      Blomfeld: not at this time your honor …

      Judge: very well then, the court deems Drew Doughty to be the NHL’s best defense man !

      The People: bravo !!! … bravo !!! … bravo !!! … three cheers for Drew !!!!!! :)

  2. atwatercrushesokoye - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    A win is a win and it’s probably an aberration, but there’s no way that Canada should only beat Norway 3-1. And if Canada is counting on Benn, Doughty and Weber for their offense then the team is done. Hopefully their actual scorers get it going tomorrow against Austria.

    Probably a good thing the tournament isn’t in North America because the next 22 hours are going to be crazy an sports talk radio shows in Canada.

  3. hockeywizardbill - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    stop putting scores in headlines

  4. pinchweasel38 - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Let’s not forget Canada had a slow start in Vancouver, too. I’m not convinced we’ll be repeating the gold, but while the other teams, including the U.S., have a ton of excellent players, Canada has the most depth of any team, so we certainly have the ABILITY to repeat. Either way, no need for Canada to panic. If I recall correctly, we started slowly in Salt Lake, too, so… ;)

  5. isithockeyseasonyet - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    I see a lot of nervousness in these posts, keep it real folks, they’ll probably get better but that’s a nerve wrecking way to start, lucky they’re in the group they are in

  6. pmonte3122 - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    Just making the states look better and better

  7. puregreed - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Its not how you start its how you finish!!

  8. penvik - Feb 13, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    Canada has a history of either strong start and weak finishes or vice versa. I will take the latter!!

  9. narfmoo12 - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Carter, Nash, and Kunitz looked great. Sure am glad Canada picked them over Giroux and Thornton

  10. rpiotr01 - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    US ground Slovakia to a pulp along the boards and worked the cycle all game long. Canada should really be doing the same thing. Seemed like they were aways trying to play off the rush. I expect them next time to get in low, put pressure on in the offensive zone and find the open man. With all their skill they should have no trouble burying a few per game.

  11. restohpens - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    Norway played a great, physical game. They didn’t allow Canada’s forwards to get anytime and space on the rush, jamming them up and the blue line and causing havoc with their borderline interference. At one point Crosby got stood up on the blue line, coming into the zone as F1 on what surely would have been a 3 on 2, and, clearly upset about the no call and the guy riding him all the way to the front of the net, started a little altercation, clearly frustrated.

    The way Norway was playing, jamming/interfering forwards, the only open guys were on the point. I’d take this as a great win for Canada and look for Norway to be a force in the lower seed. In Canada’s defense though, they didn’t look at all prepared to play a physical hockey game. Period 2 and 3 were fantastic though.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Feb 13, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      No surprise that a European team was playing the trap on big ice, we’ll see plenty of that as the tournament goes on, particularly if Canada has to face Switzerland, they always give Canada a tough game (beat them in 2006) because they do an excellent job of it. Norway’s team would have trouble putting players on the Canadian world junior team (not a knock on Norway just a reality of where the two countries stand in hockey) so it’s disappointing that Canada didn’t dominate them.

      It’s not the end of the world, and will be all but forgotten with a strong performance tomorrow, but just a disappointing way to start a tournament that Canadians (TSN and Sportsnet) have been talking about since the day after the end of the Vancouver Olympics.

  12. steverolley - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Everybody knows the first game of the Olympic tournament is the most important! Remember how the USA beat Canada game 1 in Vancouver and then went on to get the gold :(

    • atwatercrushesokoye - Feb 13, 2014 at 5:15 PM

      That was game 3, Canada played Norway in game 1 in 2010 and won 8-0, then struggled to beat Switzerland 3-2 in a SO in game 2. I understand what you’re saying but it would be nice to see a team that is very highly skilled dominate a team that has nowhere near as much talent as they did in 2010.

  13. lonespeed - Feb 13, 2014 at 5:48 PM

    I would have loved to have heard what Zuc was saying to the Canadien bench during the game. Pierre mentioned he was giving them a lot of lip. It sounded tongue n cheek. Probably hilarious.

  14. pastabelly - Feb 13, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    I still find it amusing that many in Canada don’t believe Bergeron even belongs on the team. I thought they knew their hockey north of the border.

    • dueman - Feb 13, 2014 at 7:03 PM

      I’m not sure where you came up with that belief, and I’m guessing that you don’t know many Canadians. I’ve never heard that said even once on any media format, nor has anyone I have talked to ever said that (I’m Canadian so that is relevant) What I find amusing is when people just make stuff up, or hear one person say something dumb, and then assume many believe it.

      • canadiansportsfan77 - Feb 13, 2014 at 7:53 PM

        I’ve heard it many times about his spot…not so much him making the team but him being on the starting roster.

        But ya I have been shocked to, I think he is so valuable to the team and would be even more valuable at centre with Tavares on the wing. Will be very valuable to line up against the Russian second line assuming they use the Toews line against the big line

  15. dbarnes79 - Feb 13, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    It is a bit concerning that they only beat Norway 3-1 but I guess on bigger ice and playing together for the first time takes some time getting used to.

    • avscup - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      Sure didn’t matter for USA against a much better team than Norway!

  16. gbatap - Feb 13, 2014 at 6:45 PM

    More Benn and Bergeron, less Kunitz and Nash.

  17. joey4id - Feb 13, 2014 at 7:15 PM

    What were the line combos and d pairings for Canada?

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