Sidney Crosby scored the only goal of a shootout in which an entire nation of nervous Canadians hung on every shot, giving Canada a 3-2 victory over Switzerland last night and avoiding a second inconceivable loss to the Swiss in as many Olympics.
Canada, a huge favorite despite a 2-0 upset loss to Switzerland in 2006 that ranks among the greatest in Olympic history, took a 2-0 lead early in the second period and looked to be cruising. But the Swiss, with only two NHL players to Canada’s 23, came back to tie it on second-period goals by Ivo Ruthemann and Patrick von Gunten.
After a scoreless third period and five-minute overtime, the first three shooters for each team in the shootout failed. Crosby put a wrist shot past Jonas Hiller with his second attempt, and the game ended when Canada goalie Martin Brodeur stopped Martin Pluss’s shot.
Across Canada, there was a single emotion: Whew.
After overwhelming preliminary runs by the US and Canada, the North American powers are one victory away from ensuring their long-anticipated meeting for a gold medal next week.
Molly Engstrom had a goal and an assist for the Americans, who outscored their first three opponents, 31-1. Even a fairly strong performance by the highly regarded Finns couldn’t generate a stumble by the Americans or Vetter.
With a four-goal first period, the Americans advanced to the semifinals against Sweden, which upset them in the same round four years ago in Turin. The Swedes won that meeting with a 37-save effort by goalie Kim Martin, who will face them again Monday.
Finland will take on the Canadians, who outscored their three preliminary opponents, 41-2, in the other semifinal.