Canada Cruises Past Austria
SOCHI -- Perhaps Sidney Crosby was holding Jeff Carter back?
Carter was removed from Crosby's wing on Canada's top line Friday and the Los Angeles Kings forward promptly scored a natural hat trick in the second period of a 6-0 rout of Austria in Group B play at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
One day after opening the tournament with a rather understated 3-1 win against Norway the Canadians turned it on, also getting goals from Carter's Kings teammate Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and Ryan Getzlaf before the game was 40 minutes old.
A few hundred yards away, Finland was beating Norway just as handily, setting up a showdown for first place in Group B against Canada on Sunday (noon ET; CBC, USA).
Austria, after a relatively strong showing in an 8-4 loss to Finland on Thursday, was clearly overmatched against the powerhouse Canadians.
They were outshot 46-23 and Austrian coach Emanuel Viveiros pulled goalie Bernhard Starkbaum after he allowed six goals on 31 shots in two periods.
Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith each dressed for their first game for Canada. Duchene played on a line with Anaheim Ducks teammates Corey Perry and Getzlaf, while Subban rotated in to take shifts with both Duncan Keith and Jay Bouwmeester.
Smith was the backup to goaltender Robert Luongo, who made 23 saves for the shutout, though he needed to be sharp early as the Austrians had a pair of high-quality scoring chances in the first five minutes of the game.
Carter began the game as Canadian coach Mike Babcock's 13th forward and took a tripping penalty at 29 seconds of the second period, making his spot in the lineup against Finland suddenly rather tenuous.
Carter stepped out of the penalty box and created a turnover at the Austrian blue line to send Crosby into the zone. He set up Patrick Marleau for a marvelous chance that hit the post, but Carter was there to tap it into an open net at 2:39 of the second.
Less than two minutes later Starkbaum got caught behind his own net and gave the puck to Carter, who pulled a wraparound to put it through the goaltender's legs at 4:09 of the second.
At 14:33 of the second Carter was again in the right place at the right time when a rebound of a Marleau shot bounced right to him at the side of the net and he had a yawning net to shoot at, giving him three goals on four shots in less than five minutes of ice time in the game to that point.
Carter was also on the ice when Getzlaf scored a gorgeous goal at 16:48 of the second, toe-dragging around Austrian defender Thomas Koch before beating Starkbaum to make it 6-0.
Carter was a plus-5 at that point in the game because he was also on the ice when Doughty opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the point at 5:24 of the first period, his second goal of the tournament.
Weber doubled the lead by scoring on a blistering slap shot at 10:12 of the first, but it was the play that preceded it that may have been the nicest of the game.
Getzlaf was skating up the right hand side of the ice and sent a backhand saucer clear across to the other wing to a streaking Perry, who knocked the puck out of the air and onto his stick with one hand. Once he crossed the blue line Perry used the toe of his stick to leave a drop pass through his legs to Weber, who one-timed it past Starkbaum.
Starkbaum never saw it go past him and many people in the building didn't see it go in as the puck hit the back of the net and popped back out immediately, but the referee signaled a goal, giving Weber two in two games.