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Hockey superpowers set to collide

Wednesday, 02.24.2010 / 1:48 PM ET / News
By Adam Kimelman
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Hockey superpowers set to collide
No. 6 CANADA (2-1-0-1, 8 points) vs. No. 3 RUSSIA (2-0-1-0, 7 points) 


NOTE: records are presented as three-point wins (regulation time), two-point wins (OT or shootout), one-point losses (OT or shootout), zero-point losses (regulation time). 


What to watch: Let's see … the two most skilled teams in the tournament, the two tournament favorites, fighting to survive and still have a chance at a medal. Think there might be some jump in the skates for this one?  

"It's going to be a pretty big game for both countries, for both teams," said Russia forward Alex Ovechkin. "But it's going to be a pretty fun game, too."  

Russia seemed to find its line chemistry in Sunday's 4-2 win against the Czech Republic. Barring any changes, Evgeni Malkin will center a line with Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, with a second line Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk and Maxim Afinogenov.  

"A great moment for me (and) for him and for our team, too," Ovechkin said of skating alongside Malkin. "But I think it was the most important thing that we win the game. We take one extra day off for us. We just take more time and space to work out and be ready for next game."  

Canada won't have much time to rest, coming back one day after routing Germany, 8-2.  

Goalie Roberto Luongo rose to the occasion in his first elimination game since he gave up seven goals to the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Tuesday he stopped 21 of 23 shots and gave no reason for coach Mike Babcock to reconsider his choice of goaltenders.  
   
"I think it's normal to be nervous," he said immediately after the game. "Big game, big stage, I think it's normal to be nervous, but I think it's good, you get more adrenaline pumping in the veins."


Last game: Canada defeated Germany, 8-2, in the qualification round Tuesday; Russia beat the Czech Republic, 4-2, on Sunday in their final preliminary round game.


TEAM REPORTS



Russia: With Russia among the pre-tournament favorites, much was made of this being Russia's chance to avenge the 1972 Summit Series, when Canada clinched the series with a victory in Moscow.
   
Russia beat Canada to win the World Championships in 2008, but that wasn't a best-on-best competition like the Olympics.  
   
While this game won't win anybody a medal, you can't help but think the Russian players are licking their chops at the thought of ruining Canada's home-ice Olympic coronation.  
   
"No doubt, they (Canada) would be very motivated playing on home ice and also gunning for revenge," said Ovechkin, referring to the '08 Worlds, as well as last spring, when Russia beat Canada for the gold. "But we'll be just as hungry as them."

Canada: It took four games, but it finally seems like Canada coach Mike Babcock has found line combinations that worked. In the 8-2 win against Germany on Tuesday, each line had a goal, led by the line of Sidney Crosby-Jarome Iginla-Eric Staal, which combined for 3 goals, with two of them by Iginla.  
   
"We're feeling better going off a win, but also (it's) more time together," Iginla told NHL.com. "We've come together pretty quickly and it is better than a practice. You know you don't want to play (this game) and you know you need to win it; but, at the same time, once you are in it, it's more time for line combinations, more time for power play, penalty kill. Just get used to also playing elimination games; that's a Game 7. I thought tonight we handled that early. We came out and had our best start of the tournament. All of our legs were going."  
   
The Sharks line, the trio of Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf-Rick Nash, and the threesome of Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews and Brenden Morrow each had a goal.
   
The breakout for Iginla especially was good to see. The Calgary Flames captain had 3 goals on five shots in the tournament opener against Norway, but then had just two shots in the next two games.
   
Nash also got on the scoreboard for the first time in the Olympics. After playing the first three games on Crosby's wing, the move to Getzlaf's side seemed to reinvigorate him; the pair was dominant at last year's World Championships.  
   
Now the goal is to keep that momentum going on short rest against the arch-rival Russians.

Total NHL players on rosters:  Russia 14; Canada 23. 

Puck Drop --  Iginla said the focus already has shifted to Russia. "We're looking forward to it," he said. "We know our country is and we are as players. There's history there. There's rivalries there; World Juniors and up, everybody has played against them and we are really looking forward to it and happy we have the opportunity. You know, whether it was the finals, semis, quarters, you have to play all good teams to win it and we play them now."


NHL.com predicts:  Has Canada found itself? The players certainly got a fanbase desperate to cheer for it going again. Canada rides that emotion to a fast start, and holds on for a wild 6-5 victory.
  

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 53 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 54 10 27 4 37
T. Tatar 53 16 17 0 33
G. Nyquist 54 14 16 0 30
P. Datsyuk 39 8 21 13 29
J. Abdelkader 54 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 40 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 50 7 8 13 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 21 10 4 .934 1.94
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89