Sochi, Russia - Canada is golden once again. – Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Canada is golden once again.
Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz scored goals to back another shutout effort from Carey Price, as the Canadians claimed their second straight Olympic men's hockey gold medal with a 3-0 victory over Sweden on Sunday.
Price, coming off a shutout of the United States in the semifinals on Friday, turned aside 24 Swedish shots on Sunday to give Canada its ninth Olympic gold medal in men's hockey.
It's also the third gold in the last four Olympics for the Canadians, who beat the U.S. for the top prize at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and also topped the Americans four years ago in Vancouver.
Henrik Lundqvist was the only reason Sweden kept Sunday's game relatively close, stopping 33 shots in a sterling effort.
Sweden was trying for its third gold medal. The Swedes won eight years ago in Italy and beat Canada for its first title in 1994, the last Olympics before the NHL began participation.
Sunday's game may have been the last for NHL players in Olympic competition. The league has not yet decided if it will again halt its season for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.
If it was indeed the NHL's last Olympic stand, Canada again proved it is the top hockey nation in the world.
The Canadians were undefeated in the 2014 Games, allowing a mere three goals, but by no means were they perfect. Rather, they improved throughout the tournament.
Defense was always at the forefront for the Canadians, who surrendered just two goals in preliminary-round wins over Norway, Austria and Finland. Latvia nearly knocked them out in the quarterfinals, as a late Shea Weber power-play goal gave Canada a 2-1 win.
The Canadians clearly found their game in the medal round with their two best games of the tournament. After a tight-checking 1-0 win over the United States lifted the Canadians into the gold medal game, they dominated Sweden on Sunday.
Canada struck first with 7:05 left in the first period. Jeff Carter skated down the right wing and fired a pass toward the top of the crease, where Toews was jostling for position in front of Lundqvist and deflected the puck through the netminder.
Patrice Bergeron had a couple of chances earlier in the period for Canada, but was denied by Lundqvist on a shot from the right circle a minute into the stanza and fired a left-circle shot off the post with nine minutes to play.
Sweden also found iron early in the first when Gustav Nyquist drove toward the net and tried to stuff the puck home. It caromed off the post and Price was able to cover it in the crease before it snuck over the goal line.
Only the play of Lundqvist kept the Swedes in it during the second period. He turned away Martin St. Louis from the right circle 4 1/2 minutes into the stanza and came up with a stop on a 2-on-1 blast from Corey Perry with 9:34 remaining.
Lundqvist, though, was unable to stop Crosby on a breakaway with 4:17 to play. Crosby came up with a turnover at the Canadian blue line and raced the other way along the left wing. He cut across the top of the crease with a neat move to his backhand and slipped a shot that made its way into the net after Lundqvist got a small piece of the puck.
The Canadians continued to apply pressure in the third period, but Lundqvist stopped Toews on a 3-on-1 break in the first minute and Drew Doughty found the post a couple of minutes later.
Kunitz then all but sealed it for the Canadians midway through the third, snapping a shot from the slot past Lundqvist for a 3-0 margin.
Price needed to stop just four shots in the third to complete the whitewash.
The Canadians went the final 164 minutes and 19 seconds of the tournament without allowing a goal, going back to Latvia's tally at 15:41 of the first period in the quarterfinals.
Sweden played the gold medal game without forward Nicklas Backstrom because of an unannounced reason.