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Canada survives major scare, beats Latvia 2-1

Feb 19, 2014, 2:28 PM EST

Gudlevskis Getty Images

It was one of the most one-sided games you’ll ever see.

And it was also one of the closest.

In a contest that viewers almost had a hard time believing, Canada avoided one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history with a 2-1 win over Latvia at the Bolshoy Ice Dome on Wednesday. Victory did not come easy for the Canadians despite carrying the play for extended stretches while out-shooting the Latvians by a staggering 57-16 margin — and that was all thanks to one man, goalie Kristers Gudlevskis.

Gudlevskis, the 21-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning farmhand, turned in an absolutely phenomenal performance for the overmatched Latvians, setting a tournament high for saves in a game with 55.

VIDEO: Watch the controversial no goal

The only Canadians to beat him on the day were Patrick Sharp and Shea Weber — who notched the game-winner with less than seven minutes remaining. Lauris Darzins replied for the Latvians, converting a long stretch pass from Sandis Ozolinsh into a breakaway goal.

The story of the game, though, starts and ends with Gudlevskis. It was an effort that pushed him to the point of exhaustion as, immediately prior to the Weber goal, the Latvian trainer was called onto the ice to tend to Gudlevskis, who looked to be either exhausted or injured, or a combination of both.

Latvia also had some puck luck go its way in the third period, when a diving save by Kristaps Sotnieks kept a would-be Canadian goal out of the net. Just one problem — Sotnieks was a skater, not a goalie, and putting his hand on the puck in the crease should’ve resulted in a penalty shot. The referees missed the call, though, and play continued after a brief video replay.

As for Canada, the team will undoubtedly be disappointed with its lack of finish, but hard pressed to complain about generating chances and keeping puck possession. Canada fired 16 shots on goal in the first period, 19 in the second, 22 in the third and has now out-shot its opponents 168-73 over five tournament games.

  1. canucks30 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    When did Sandis Ozolinsh turn into Bobby Orr?

    • blomfeld - Feb 19, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      he didn’t … that’s was done by Drew Doughty ! :)

  2. thailer35 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Remember all of those predictions that Canada would roll Latvia like 6-1?

    Canada is what Herb Brooks would call an “all-star team”. And he once said something about all-star teams once, didn’t he?

    • cambannedloinstache - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      Yeah you didn’t watch the game.

      • thailer35 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        I did actually. Good try though.

      • dueman - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        You obviously weren’t paying attention then.

      • 19to77 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        My ass you did, thailer. This has nothing to do with anything the Canadian team. They played an excellent game all up and down the roster and fired over fifty shots on net. The Latvian skaters were basically dominated every shift. This was all down to one guy. One insane display of absolute wizardry by a goalie to give his team a chance. You want to make that all-star argument about the Russians and why they fell apart, fine. It’s true in their case. But if you’re making that criticism of Team Canada, you’re talking out your ass.

      • c9castine - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        yeah you obviously didn’t get the reference if you don’t remember the basics of the 1980 isa-russia game.

        wasn’t as bad, but similar type game the americans won.

    • kaptaanamerica - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      All the scum bag Canadians who were going on about how this would be lopsided and the Latvians had no chance etc…. can stick it in their ears… The Latvians had a couple of chances and if not for a late PP goal, might have forced it to overtime or won on a lucky break.

      As i said before Getzlaf’s line deserves more icetime than Crosby’s line and Crosby himself. Only the lines that are playing well should be getting the majority of ice. Giving a guy time cuz of reputation is a joke which if it happens against the US will result in Canada going home like losers.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        Lazy troll is lazy… Nice cut n paste job, brah.

  3. thomasvanek - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    That was one of the best goal tending performance I have ever seen. Ted Nolan knows how to coach underdog teams that’s for sure.

    • mshantz22 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      In that case you’d like to think he’s the right guy for the job in Buffalo.

      • natstowngreg - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:35 PM

        So far, he has been. The Sabres still lose. But at least, they’re hustling.

      • thomasvanek - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        Being a Sabres fan I can tell you first hand that we compete every night and that trend with Nolan continued with team Latvia.

  4. modown0 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:31 PM

    Amazing performance, one I will not soon forget!

  5. cambannedloinstache - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Full credit to the Latvians for a “structured and scrappy” performance – at no point in the game did they roll over. Their goal was also one of the prettiest I’ve seen so far in the tournament.

    Of course, all the talk should be on Gudlevskis – easily the best player on the ice for this game.

    • patthehockeyfan - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:37 PM

      Ah, that goal! What a play! Sneaky and pretty! Want to bet that on ensuing face-offs, Canada wouldn’t get fooled again?

      Glad Canada won. Except for SOG, Latvia played a hell of a game.

  6. strictlythedanks - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    weak penalty call

  7. canucks30 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    Canada vs USA Part IV on Friday

  8. bucrightoff - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    Steve Yzerman must have had conflicted feelings throughout the game. Must be happy he looks like he got a steal in Gudlevskis, but he must have had a near heart attack as it appeared Gudlevskis might steal it. Weber and Doughty are ascending to God status in Canada.

    As to Friday’s game, the US has been the best and most consistent team in the Olympics, they should be favored. If Canada’s forwards don’t start lighting the lamp it could be a blowout.

    • patthehockeyfan - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      Agree with all your remarks.

    • sens101 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      The one somewhat evenly matched team the states played (Russia) held the US to two goals and it took TJ oshies magic to win in a shoot out. This game will be similar. I’ll be shocked if it’s a blowout for either team. I think we may see Toews and Oshie head to head taking every shot in a shoot out! Lol

      • rockthered1286 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        Okay I’ll bite- if that was (allegedly) the only evenly matched game the US played, then who would you consider the evenly matched games Canada played? As far as I can tell they had the weakest group in the first round and STILL needed an OT win and had a tough time with their first game. Then this past game against a much lesser Latvia team it took a PP goal with 7 mins left to win. So of those 3, 2 games decided by 1 goal and 1 game decided by 2 goals. All 3 games with 3 or less goals against lesser teams. 1 blowout against Austria 6-0. The US has shutdown a very good Czech team 5-2, Slovakia 7-1, and Slovenia 5-1. Russia played their best game of the Olympics against us (compared to the sloppy play in their last 2 games). I’m not saying the US is blowing out Canada at all, I’m simply saying Canada has had a favorable schedule and has been eeking out wins from teams they should be beating easily, which to me? Makes it hard to predict a close game that could go either way. They way I see it, if Canada’s forwards don’t show up it could get ugly. COULD. Not will. But only time will tell…

      • 19to77 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        I’d count Finland as an even match purely on their never-say-die attitude and committed team play. On paper their injuries had derailed any chance of medal contention before the qualifying round was over. Instead they took Canada to overtime and knocked the Russians off on home ice. They simply do not quit. Gotta respect the potential of a team like that to pull off some upsets – and they have one big one under their belt already.

      • alliedforces74 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        The US has been playing great, no doubt about it. They’re super fast and their breaking through the opposition with ease. They’re played much different games than the Canadians have. You can say that Canada’s had the easiest draw, but if you’ve watched any of those games you’d know it was different. Both Finland and Latvia knew they were outmatched offensively, so they played one hell of a defensive game. It was hockey like war. Defend your territory until the enemy is thrown off balance, then counter attack.
        The US has displayed offensive prowess, but how’s their defensive game been? Has Quick really been tested more than Price?
        Russia’s off balance and early performance can hardly be considered the toughest draw of the tournament.
        And don’t count out Canada’s offense. They clocked 57 shots. That’s insane. The Latvians barely got the puck out of their own end the entire game. It was a one sided game. So was Finland. Canada has been out playing each of their opponents by the margin we’ve expected. But the nature of the tournament is one bounce this way or that way coupled with a hot goalie could mean a huge upset. Reference Latvia. This was the game Canada expected from the Swiss. You can NEVER overlook your opponent’s will to live.
        USA vs CAN will be a completely different game from any other in this tournament. Both teams will be willing to take more chances and play a lot more aggressively because they know who their up against. These teams are the ONLY teams in the Olympics with rosters 100% supplied by the NHL.
        Win or lose, this will be a gooder. Though my heart and soul is with Canada. I wear the flag on my arm everyday.

      • sens101 - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:20 PM

        Yeah Canada did have an easier division on paper. But two teams from that division also are in the semis, so realistically it was probably one of the toughest. I’d agree that the states is playing better than Canada right now for sure, don’t get me wrong. All I’m saying is that regardless of who’s playing better offensively right now, it’s gonna be an all out war, especially defensively. Just like in 2010 when it was a 2-1 OT game.

  9. narfmoo12 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Where’s Hockey412 and his fellow Penguins fans … Please tell us again how great Crosby and Kunitz are playing.

    • patthehockeyfan - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      And ………………… WE’RE OFF!!!

      lol

    • dueman - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:06 PM

      I’ll do it instead, and I’m no Pens fan. Crosby created more scoring chances in today’s game than you could shake a stick at, and Kunitz played great as well. Today’s game came down to one thing, and one thing only….one heck of a goal tending performance by Gudlevskis!

    • hockey412 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Once again I didn’t think Crosby and Kunitz were to blame for the entirety of the Candian offense getting blanked, aside from Sharp. Is there someone aside from Weber and Sharp that you thought had a much better game?

      Kunitz set Crosby up on a great break away…after that Kunitz hit a post…happens in hockey – Giroux is lucky to even hit the post (check his shooting percentage…it’s horrible). Sure I wish he would have put it in, to shut moronic, arm-chair GM’s like you up, but hey – it didn’t fall that way. Overall I thought they looked as good as the rest of the team…just an observation.

      Here’s another observation – you are a d*ck.

      • narfmoo12 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        Wow… So every article we comment on, you spout garbage without stats or facts, and I reply with stats and facts that you don’t like. That makes me a d*ck? I’m sure you do well in your daily interactions with people and are very successful in your professional life.

        Also, Giroux’s shooting percentage (which is a wonderful measure of talent) is 1.3% lower than Kunitz for their careers, but I guess that Giroux’s role since moving to center is that of a playmaker, not a sniper might have something to do with that.

      • hockey412 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:21 AM

        Um, no, your overbearing need to ramble on DAYS after a debate is over, to bring my name and the argument I was making up needlessly in a separate article (or to comment on another commenter in general) make you a d*ck.

      • broadstreetbeatdown - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:56 PM

        Another one of hockey412 patented idiotic comments. He’s the only one that tries to compare a player like Giroux (who is not playing in the tourney) to a guy like Kunitz. He also tries to use the fact that Kunitz hit the iron as a measuring stick for how greatly improved his play has been, while conveniently glossing over the fact that Kunitz has indeed been the worst player on the ice for team Canada throughout the Olympics. Personally I’m surprised that Kunitz even shot the puck in the right direction seeing that he leads team Canada in turnovers.

        No worries though pal. Y’all have a date with our Americans on Friday…have fun playing for the Bronze.

      • hockey412 - Feb 20, 2014 at 8:20 AM

        Actually you’re about a day late with your snappy little comeback. Narfmoo was the one that was trying to draw the comparison between the two players on an earlier article – and we left it there. Really wasn’t any reason to bring me or the subject back up in this article, except that he’s an overbearing twit.

  10. hammerhead5573 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    57 shots???? Are you freakin kidding me???

  11. sens101 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    The game on Friday is going to be a war regardless of how good or bad each team is playing. Love that there are two huge rivalries between neighboring countries for the semis. The last two olympic finalists!!! Perfect day to play hookie at work and enjoy a three day weekend! Go Canada!!!

    • oruacat2 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      It’s gonna be North America versus Scandinavia for the gold!

      • hockeydon10 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        North Americans vs Vikings?

  12. oruacat2 - Feb 19, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    From Wikipedia:
    “Kristers Gudļevskis (born July 31, 1992) is an ice wizard who disguises himself as the Latvian ice hockey goaltender. He returned to human form in order to torture Canadians as revenge for their poor treatment of Ted Nolan.”

    Awesome.

    • cofran2004 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      The no-fun police have already edited it back to the proper entry. Sigh…

      • hockeydon10 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:36 PM

        I once edited the Don Cherry entry to say ‘Don “Piano Hands” Cherry’ with a link to the hilarious youtube video. The no-fun police edited that in short order, too.

      • cofran2004 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        I changed the entry for “Jennifer’s Body” one time. I changed the plot to, “Who cares? Megan Fox is hot. Plot? What plot?”

        That changed back pretty rapidly as well.

    • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:25 PM

      “He returned to human form in order to torture Canadians as revenge for their poor treatment of Ted Nolan.”

      When did Canada ever treat Nolan bad? It was the Buffalo Sabres and NY Islanders who fired him too soon.

  13. flyerfan2083 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Canada may finish out of the medals this time around. We’ll see what Canada’s really made of with the next game vs their rivals from the US. Hopefully they can elevate their game. Regardless, they’re in tough facing any of the three teams remaining which all have stellar goaltending and offences that have performed on par or better than Canada. It’s about to get really interesting to say the least

  14. cofran2004 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    I HATE it when players put their pucks on the hand.

    • Mike Halford - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Gah. The words, they all start to look the same after a while. Thanks for the heads-up, tho. Fixed.

      • cofran2004 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:21 PM

        Not a problem. I just wanted some cheap laughs, it didn’t really bother me. Hopefully I got some.

  15. theageofquarrel - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Crosby sucks. He should just retire.

  16. bigdong28 - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    I don’t think Price is good enough to win them the gold this time around

    • patthehockeyfan - Feb 19, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Don’t know that I agree; but, I think there’s more of a problem than Price.

      Yes, they’re winning, and yes, they’re doing it without their forwards scoring.

      You can go to the well only so many times, Canada.

      • alliedforces74 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:59 PM

        57 times, this time.

        To me, that says everything you need to know about their offense, and something else about Latvia’s defense.

  17. krebsy34 - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    Couldn’t have asked for a better game to watch. I would have liked to see them win, but if they were gonna be too whipped out as a squad to play the US competitively then I’m happy with their performance and ok with the loss to Canada. BUT if Nostradamus said that a US-Latvia match up would have been better than the US-Canada match up we are gonna see. Then I’d be the biggest Latvian bandwagoner you’ve ever seen. And…I’m ok with that.

    Hopefully their effort will bring a little bit more attention to Latvian hockey and the growth of the game in their country, or just any country that isn’t a hockey powerhouse. I’d love to see the day when every country in the Olympics is at the level of Canada and the US. I think if there are more games and performances like we just watched, it will bring that level of competitiveness to fruition sooner rather than later.

  18. dumbassgreg - Feb 19, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    if they are only going to play six defensemen then why not dress subban just for power play. ted nolan can coach . he was not good at kissing john muckler white catholic ass. was blackballed by the old boys club.

  19. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    One of the best random goalie performances I’ve seen since Ben Scrivens shutout the Sharks.

    It’s been a good year!

  20. joey4id - Feb 19, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    I haven’t seen a game and I have no idea what the offensive lines have been. If Babcock has not been playing Kunitz with Crosby, Toews with Sharp, and Getzlaf with Perry, then it’s on him if they don’t score more goals. If they’ve been playing together and not scoring then it’s on the players. Crosby has got to put the puck in the net. Ultimately he is the leader and he has to step up his game. I don’t give a hoot about how many shots they get on net or how many the opposing blocked. The bottom line is Crosby is not scoring, and nor is TC. Crosby’s job is to lead the team to victory. Anything but gold is a failure. No bloody excuses. Get it done!

  21. stakex - Feb 19, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Why does the video link refer to that play in the crease as a “controversial no goal”? The puck never went in…. and even if a player covered the puck to prevent it from going in, it would still only result in a penalty shot, not a goal. As such its perhaps a controversial play, but the no goal call isn’t controversial at all.

    Either way, Kristers Gudlevskis played an amazing game… and if he had even a slightly better team in front of him, Canada would be going home right now. Still though, when you are a super star packed team that fires 57 shots on goal, you should score more than two goals no matter how good the goalie is. Good shots, good puck movement, and of course deflections can all beat a really hot goalie… Canada simply failed to bury some of the chances they could have. That’s not to take anything away from Gudlevskis, its just the skill mismatch of the two teams was so staggering the score shouldn’t have been that close despite his amazing play.

  22. alliedforces74 - Feb 19, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    They won! Doesn’t matter if they won by 1 or won by 12. They won, and they won it hard.
    Saying that there should be more goals because they are all skilled players is rediculous. You fire 57 shots at a brick wall, all you can do is wait for it to fall over.
    And that’s what they did…they tore down the wall and nearly killed Gudlevskis in the process. If that game went into OT, his heart might have exploded from pure fatigue.
    I find it hard to critique and offence that got 57 shots ON GOAL. Nevermind the ones that hit 2 or 3 Latvians on the way to the goal.
    Solid effort by Latvia. Good win from Canada.

    Now for the next one. And a verrrry different style of hockey!

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