Team USA shatters Canada

Miller stones Canucks, who outshot Americans 45-23

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency



VANCOUVER - So, where to from here?

Which way does Team Canada turn now as the Games have progressed from warmup to sudden-death elimination?

Stick with veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, whose miscues with the puck played a role in the first three American goals in the USA’s 5-3 win over Canada at GM Place Sunday?

Or switch things up and go with hometown hero Roberto Luongo?

It’s a legitimate debate as Canada must now play an extra game in the elimination round Tuesday after finishing sixth in the preliminary round standings with a 1-1-0-1 record and a likely date with the winless Germans.

Win that game and Canada is likely to face the Russians.

The Americans went undefeated in the preliminary round and will advance directly to Wednesday’s quarterfinals, potentially as the top seed pending the outcome of Sunday’s late game between Sweden and Finland.

The irony of the situation Sunday night is Brodeur’s puck-handling skills - allowed to be used to maximum effectiveness without the no-touch trapezoid here - were the reason why Canada lost Sunday.

American defenceman Brian Rafalski benefited from Brodeur's first two miscues, the first when he flubbed a chance to move the puck behind the net. That resulted in Rafalski opening the scoring just 41 seconds into the game.

After Canada’s Eric Staal had tied the game, Rafalski jumped on another Brodeur mistake just 22 seconds later to put the Americans back in front. Brodeur tried to fly the puck out of the zone, only to have it knocked down. Rafalski’s low shot beat him through traffic and inside the left post.

Canada dominated the Americans for long stretches, but had trouble finishing against American goaltender Ryan Miller.

Canada’s Dany Heatley tied the game again before the second period was four minutes old. He was in his usual spot on the left edge of the crease to knock home a rebound of a Jonathan Toews shot off a spin move coming our from behind the net against Ryan Suter.

But another error by Brodeur led to the eventual winning goal in the waning minutes of the second period. After being bumped to the ice by American forward David Backes, Brodeur never seemed to regain position on the ensuing scramble.

He lunged on his stomach to try and poke away a puck, but missed and the USA’s Bobby Ryan knocked the puck towards the net. American Chris Drury got the puck and, with Canadian defenceman Dan Boyle playing goaltender, beat him to make it 3-2.

Brodeur didn’t have much of a chance on the fourth American goal, a puck that changed direction with the USA on the power play seven minutes into the third period.

Canada rallied in the closing minutes, taking advantage of a penalty to American defenceman Erik Johnson with just more than three minutes left in the third period. On the power play, Rick Nash made a pinpoint pass out of the right wing corner onto the tape of Sidney Crosby, who had only to direct the puck between Millers’ pads.

The Canadians poured it on after that, spending almost all of 19th minute of the third period in the American zone, but Miller made stop after huge stop, the crowd at GM Place in a frenzy, chants of “USA, USA” and “Ca-na-da” crashing down from the stands.

Ryan Kesler silenced the Canadian cries with a diving effort to put the puck in the empty net.

POLL