For 29 minutes 57 seconds, Norway bent but didn’t break. Then Canada snapped the pesky squad in two.
Canada turned a 2-2 nail-biter into an 8-2 blowout with a dominating final 30 minutes in the quarter-finals at the world hockey championship yesterday at the Metro Centre as the tournament bid farewell to Halifax.
The win earned Canada a semifinal date with Sweden tomorrow in Quebec City, but it didn’t come without tense moments.
“When it was 2-2, I was wondering if that ferry parked outside had a direct route to Columbus,” joked head coach Ken Hitchcock, who lives in Ohio as coach of the NHL’s Blue Jackets.
Norway, which nearly shocked Canada when it fought to a 2-1 loss in the round robin, was in another close game until it got into penalty trouble midway through the second period.
Jonathan Toews capitalized at 9:57 to spark the six-goal onslaught. Derek Roy followed that up with two goals in a span of 2:42 on bullet shots from the faceoff circle, making it 5-2 after 40 minutes, and completed his hat trick in the third.
“We expected a tough game — it was just a matter of us controlling the game after that and pushing them out of the game,” said Canadian forward Rick Nash, who scored two goals of his own. “We had something to prove.”
As goal after goal found its way past Pal Grotnes and Norway’s seemingly impenetrable trap, you had to wonder how Canada had only scored four goals in the previous 90 minutes.
“They were doing things to frustrate us,” Toews said. “But when you work through that, you’re going to cash in, and you saw that in the final score at the end of the game.”
Norway took three straight penalties in the second period that resulted in goals by Toews and Roy. Norwegian head coach Roy Johansen said his team was “punished by the referees.”
“We lost the game in that moment,” he said. “He gave us easy penalties and made this game impossible for us.”
Hitchcock said Norway got what it deserved.
“Quite frankly, those referees caught them on the shots they got away with in the 2-1 game,” he said. “We deserved to go on the power play and that’s why we won.”
Norway made hockey history with its first appearance in the world quarter-finals, and veteran captain Tommy Jakobsen said his team could “leave with our heads up high.”
The sellout crowd of 9,192 rose to its feet and roared in the final minute, a fitting sendoff to a dominating team that won seven straight games and outscored opponents 43-12.
“I don’t think there could have been a better city than Halifax to host this,” Nash said. “But, in saying that, we’re happy to move on. The next game against Sweden is going to be fun.”
>> Dany Heatley scored his tournament-leading 10th goal, one short of the Canadian record … Ryan Getzlaf added a single … Cam Ward earned the win in goal with 22 saves.