POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 22, 2014
SOCHI, Russia » From the twin beds in the athletes' village to the cramped competition schedule, the Olympics are not a comfortable fit for NHL players. Crossing the globe to play five games in nine days, as semifinalists the United States and Canada did, is a prescription for insomnia, at best.
The Canadians stayed alive Friday in their quest for the gold medal, defeating the United States 1-0 at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Canada will play Sweden on Sunday for the gold. The U.S. plays Finland on Saturday for the bronze.
The Canadians have allowed three goals in five games, their defensive mind-set proof that they understand that a little discomfort and inconvenience can pay huge dividends.
"We can check, we can work our tails off, and we can make things real tough for the other team," said Canadian forward Jonathan Toews, who did his part by winning seven of 10 faceoffs.
His teammate, Jamie Benn, won only one faceoff, but it set up the goal in the second minute of the second period. Benn sent the puck back to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who returned it to Benn, whose deflection skirted past goaltender Jonathan Quick.
U.S. coach Dan Bylsma called Quick, who stopped 36 shots, "our best player on the ice." The Canadians could have said the same about their goaltender, Carey Price, who made 31 saves.
"I've got a lot of confidence in the group in front of me," Price said. "They feel comfortable being uncomfortable."
The Americans never looked at ease. Led by captain Zach Parise, who recorded eight shots, they had ample scoring chances, but the Canadians did not give up many second chances, clearing the puck after Price made the initial save.
"We did not get enough traffic in front of their goals and find second chances to score," said U.S. forward David Backes.