History on Canada's side

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

HALIFAX -- Steve Staios was Bobby Orr.

Dany Heatley was Bobby Hull.

Shane Doan was Phil Esposito.

And so it went down the lineup as Team Canada 2008 skated on the ice for warmup wearing names and numbers of arguably the greatest team ever assembled - the 1976 Canada Cup squad.

"Wearing those uniforms on to the ice for warmup was pretty special," said Doan.

Coming off the ice at the end of the game after pulling a 5-4 win out of the fire in the final seconds for the guys who used to wear them was even better.

"We had no choice," said Ryan Getzlaf. "We're going out to dinner with those guys after the game."

Doan said this win wasn't for them but for the tradition they helped create.

"The tradition and history of hockey is such a great thing to have in Canada. I live in Phoenix and they talk about it in baseball, but I think hockey history and tradition is so much better. It's so incredible. It's those guys," he said.

Even if they weren't going out to dinner with them, even if they weren't wearing their sweaters, you're playing for Canada and the history they made, said Doan when asked by a European writer how it is that so often Canada finds a way to win games like this one.

"We feel we have no choice," said Doan. "We have to find a way. It's our sport. It's the way it is.

"Someone said that in Canada there's an emotional well you have to go to and that was it," he said.

The perfect example of that, said Doan, was in Canada's winning goal.

"The whole play started with Getzlaf going to the net. It's hard to ask your No. 1 centre, a phenomenal player in his first year at the world championships, to drive to the net like that. But if he doesn't drive to the net, Dany Heatley isn't open behind him."

Rick Nash threw the pass from the corner to Heatley in the high slot who drove it home for his sixth goal of the tournament with 46.8.seconds remaining to play.

Getzlaf, for his part, said he's no dummy.

"I realized pretty early in the tournament what I am on that line. My job is to make room for those other two guys. With Danny playing the way he is, the idea is to get it to him as fast as you can. I'm pretty confident going to the net. That's the way I have to play every day."

It's about now that hockey fans in Ottawa must be asking where this Heatley was in the playoffs when all he could manage was a single assist and a minus five rating in a four-game sweep vs. Pittsburgh. With six goals and four assists for 10 points, he's a plus seven so far.

"What can you do?" he said. "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Maybe it was the 10 days off. I feel really rested," said the Senator who scored two this night to go with Canadian goals from Brent Burns, Jonathan Toews and Derek Roy with the U.S. snipes coming from the sticks of Zach Parise, Patrick O'Sullivan, Dustin Brown and Jason Pominville.

While Team Canada of today and yesterday made it a pretty good day by the end of the day, it was hardly that all the way. Canada had to win this three times.

Up 3-0 early, if Cam Ward didn't play so well in goal, you could make a case it should have been 3-0 the other way. Canada came back and made it 4-2. But a couple penalties and great bang-bang-bang plays for American goals, and it was game on again.

In the end, both coaches said it was a ring-a-ding-dong-dandy.

"It was a very, very high level playoff game, as high as I've been in for a little while," said Canadian coach Ken Hitchcock. "It felt like a final game."

Both coaches agreed it exposed some players and gave them a list of who they have to coach up in a hurry now. But the overall review was it was good for everybody.

"Hell of a game," said U.S. coach John Tortorella.

"It was great to be part of it. Speaking for my team, they played their ass off.

"I consider it fortunate to play a game like that early in the tournament. It was fun. It was a blast."

But only one team won. And only one team was going out to dinner with Team Canada 1976.


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