So it's not the gold medal game. Who cares? It's what everyone wanted. Team USA and Team Canada. The building is sold out and the place is electric. Stanley Cup final electric. I would expect 75 percent Canadian fans even though the Sabres are correctly treating this as an American home game by passing out flags and other red, white and blue items at the gate.
PA man Jay Moran made me chuckle when he greeted the Americans for warmups with a loud here-come-the-Sabres bellow and announced Canada as if "the NHL's Florida Panthers" were taking the ice. Of course, he got drowned out by the huge ovation for the boys from north of the border.
There's nothing poetic I can really say to set this one up. There are dueling chants of "Ca-na-da, Ca-na-da" and "USA, USA" going on in different spots around the building. Lots of flags waving from both country. The story in the stands is going to be nearly as compelling as the one on the ice.
Let's get it on.
Canada starters: Hamilton-Schenn-Eakin-Cowan-Barrie. Goal: Visentin
USA starters: Morin-Bourque-Bjugstad-Ramage-Merrill. Goal: Campbell
9:18 p.m.: We're under way.
14:30 left: It's a bad wireless night here with so many media in the house. It's still 3-0. Most noteworthy item to this point was Marcus Foligno crushing Brock Nelson just about over the boards into the Canada bench. Visentin with a couple good saves too.
13:58 left: That should just about do it. Kassian on a breakaway. Low to the stick side. Great hands. Sabres gotta put him here next year. Forget about Portland. Canada, 4-0.
12:34 left: Visentin with the great glove save on Chris Kreider. Crowd roars the grab.
9:10 left: It's 4-1 Canada. Chris Brown broke Visentin's shutout at 9:37. Terrible night in the press box with the wireless system. Apologies. Must be all those Canada fans using their smartphones.
6:34 left: Canada in control. Shots are 37-21.
It's over: Now that I was able to get back on the wireless system finally I can tell you Canada won 4-1 and had a 41-23 edge in shots. Canada plays Russia for gold Wednesday at 7:30. The US plays Sweden for bronze Wednesday at 3:30. I had that game as the gold medal matchup going into today. Whoops!
8:25 p.m.: The puck is dropped.
17:27 left: A break for Team USA. Howden goes for high sticking Campbell in the head after the goalie had frozen a shot. First penalty of the night.
15:45 left: Best save of the night for Visentin, stoning Bjugstad from the slot on a rebound.
15:27 left: Just as Howden gets out of the box, Charlie Coyle takes a foolish high sticking penalty as the Americans are going up ice.
15:02 left: Bigger trouble for Team USA as Patrick Wey goes for hooking. Alert play by Kassian to give the U.S. the puck to allow the 5-on-3 to go for 1:36.
14:10 left: Campbell stones Hamilton's pair of whacks after great work down low by Kassian, who is an absolute beast and will really help the Sabres next year.
14:01 left: Ryan Johansen jumps on a rebound, a tap-in of Ellis' point shot. Canada leads, 3-0.
9:02 left: Campbell making saves all over. Robbed Couturier on a breakaway after a blatant giveaway by Bourque. Shots are 25-11. The Canadian fans are chanting "This is our house" and rightly so. If this were boxing, it's nearly a TKO. Almost ready to be stopped.
3:42 left: This baby if flying with few whistles. US to the power play as Calvin de Haan goes for Canada on a ticky-tack slashing call.
2:53 left: Sensational save by Visentin to spear a Coyle tip from the edge of the crease.
End-2nd: After a wireless outage, I can tell you it's 3-0 and shots are 28-15 and there was another big ovation to end the period. Gotta pound print story for a bit.
7:38: The puck is dropped.
17:22 left: First two shots of the game and Canada has a 1-0 lead. Cody Eakin finds Curtis Hamilton alone in front. Hamilton is stopped by Campbell but taps his own rebound into the net and does a Lambeau Leap into the glass. Canada, 1-0.
15:23 left: Huge save by Campbell on Couturier, breaking down the left wing on a 2-on-1.
14:07 left: Not much chance to say much when there's no whistles. Shots are 4-1 for Canada. Good hitting on both sides but the crowd is so far and away in favor of Canada that it feels like we're in Toronto. No surprise at all.
11:53 left: Canada's size really bothering the Americans. Quinton Howden crushed Brock Nelson and Jerry D'Amigo with big hits in about a 10-second span.
11:37 left: Campbell with a strong glove save on Hamilton. Shots are 5-1.
9:41 left: Americans finally starting to bang back. Bjugstad crushed de Haan with Team USA's best check of the night and some Canadian forwards got pushed away from Campbell after he froze the puck.
7:39 left: Visentin's best save is a glove stop on Chris Krieder. He's shaky with the glove, still stabbing at the puck, but hasn't been challenged much yet. Shots are 9-4.
6:06 left: Canada takes a 2-0 lead as Howden tips home a perfect pass from the right wing from Brett Connolly after beating Ramage down the slot. Big trouble for Team USA, which is getting beat to the puck and completely outworked in this period.
2:33 left: Kassian loses the puck off his stick in the slot just when he's going to uncork one on a 3-on-2. The ice looks bad and it looks like it got the Sabres draftee there. HUGE chance for a third goal.
End-1st: Canada gets a roaring standing ovation as it heads to the locker room with a 2-0 lead and a 12-5 edge in shots on goal. USA had only one real scoring chance, a tip from the slot by Ryan Bourque with 52 seconds left in the period that went wide. Total domination in the stands and on the ice so far.
taggedTeam Canada | USA