October 24, 2014
SOCHI, Russia — This wasn’t one of Jonathan Toews’ ordinary goal celebrations — a stoic look and a mild, cool and confident fist shake.
No, this was one of those howling, one-knee, ferocious fist-pump jobs. It was the kind of reaction Toews only busts out for the big ones — playoff goals, game-winning goals and, yes, golden goals.
Canada won its second consecutive Olympic gold medal Sunday at Bolshoy Ice Dome, beating Sweden 3-0 with a ruthless and relentless style that left the depleted Swedes grasping and gasping for air. And, as he did in 2010 in Vancouver, Toews got it started with a goal just less than 13 minutes into the first period. Carey Price, who posted shutouts in the semifinal and final, made it stand up as the game-winner.
So Toews now has two gold medals and two Stanley Cups. And he’s 25.
‘‘These things just keep coming at you,’’ he said shortly after posing on the ice for a picture with teammates Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, the gold medals slung around their necks. ‘‘You get these opportunities, and you just try and seize every one of them.’’
Keith has the same gaudy résumé at age 30. And Sharp now has his first gold medal to go with his two Cups.
‘‘This is what we play for,’’ Keith said. ‘‘We play for championships and Stanley Cups and gold medals. I definitely feel that we’ve got a lot of opportunity to win more.’’
The Canadians were utterly dominant, a defensive machine that sent wave after wave of big, physical and supremely skilled forwards at opponents. The Swedes quickly had the life sucked out of them by the Canadians’ aggressive forechecking and backchecking.
‘‘They played unbelievable defense,’’ said Niklas Hjalmarsson, who took home a silver medal, along with Blackhawks teammates Johnny Oduya and Marcus Kruger. ‘‘One of the best teams I’ve ever played against, for sure. I’m just disappointed we couldn’t really give them a better go for the gold.’’
Fact is, Canada didn’t let them. Sweden clearly was hurt by a devastating series of injuries and absences. Already without centers Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg, the Swedes lost No. 3 center Nicklas Backstrom hours before the game when they learned he had tested positive for a banned substance, reportedly an allergy medication.
But as the Canadians showed all tournament, allowing only three goals in six games, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.
‘‘We’re just an amazing team to watch, the way we work together,’’ Toews said. ‘‘We were just all over them. It’s fun to be a part of.’’
Toews and Sidney Crosby, neither of whom had scored all tournament, came through with goals in the biggest game of them all. Toews redirected a centering pass by Jeff Carter past Henrik Lundqvist in the first period, and Crosby scored on a breakaway in the second. Chris Kunitz scored his first goal of the tournament in the third to seal the victory.
Canada coach Mike Babcock ended his postgame news conference with a mike-drop moment in the face of many of his team’s biggest critics.
‘‘Does anybody know who won the scoring race?’’ he asked. ‘‘Does anybody care? Does anyone know who won the gold medal? See you, guys.’’
And that’s just it. For this Canada team, it was never about scoring goals; it was about not giving up any. And everyone bought in.
‘‘It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of a team like that, whether your role was big or small,’’ Toews said.
But for Toews, of course, his role was big — as it always seems to be when it counts. And now he has another treasure to go along with all the other accolades, awards and championships he has won in his still-young but brilliant career.
So does he have a spot in mind for the latest addition?
‘‘Not yet,’’ he said with a smile. ‘‘I’ll have to make some room.’’