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Watch out television ratings, here comes a potential record breaker.
Two countries got what they asked for when Canada held up its end of the deal, barely, beating Slovakia 3-2 and advancing to the gold medal game Sunday against the United States.
It may not have been the dominant performance the world saw two nights earlier against Russia, but it got the job done. Canada had a 2-0 lead after the first period, improved to 3-0 after two and held on for the win after Slovakia finally scored twice in the third to make for a dramatic ending.
Slovakia, behind Blackhawks Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky, spent the final minute in the Canadian zone, with an extra attacker on the ice, but couldn’t find the equalizer, despite a furious attack. Hossa and Kopecky were both in the middle of it all after a quiet 40 minutes by the Slovaks. Hossa and Kopecky had two shots a piece, all four coming in the final 20 minutes. Duncan Keith played a team high 21:39, for Canada, including that final minute as he helped stop his Hawk teammates from tying it.
Jonathan Toews arguably had his quietest game of the tournament, finishing with three shots in 16:30 of ice time, while once again Brent Seabrook was used as the seventh defenseman, playing a tournament low for him, with 5:58 of playing time.
For the second game in a row, Canada’s defense helped out on offense, assisting on all three goals. Two shots from the point directly resulted in Canada’s first two tallies, but they played on their heels in the third, getting outshot and outchanced badly in the final 20 minutes.
No matter, the dream rematch is set. The gold medal game will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, and a country that reveres the game will take on one that wants to make its mark on the international stage. Canada has an entire nation behind its team in Vancouver, while the Americans have the confidence of beating them once and will, assuredly, hold the underdog label again.
No script could have been written for a better finish with Keith, Seabrook, and Toews taking on Patrick Kane for bragging rights and a little something called a gold medal.