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Canada finish on a high with ice hockey gold

شعار Reuters Reuters 23/02/2014 Steve Keating
Canada's Crosby scores a breakaway goal past Sweden's goalie Lundqvist (Canada's Crosby scores a breakaway goal past Sweden's goalie Lundqvist © REUTERS - Julio Cortez) © Canada's Crosby scores a breakaway goal past Sweden's goalie Lundqvist © REUTERS - Julio Cortez Canada's Crosby scores a breakaway goal past Sweden's goalie Lundqvist (Canada's Crosby scores a breakaway goal past Sweden's goalie Lundqvist © REUTERS - Julio Cortez)

Canada beat Sweden 3-0 to retain their Olympic men's ice hockey title, confirming their status as the sport's undisputed superpower.

Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Chris Kunitz each scored as Canada capped an unbeaten run through the tournament to claim their third gold medal in four Winter Games and their first outside North America in 62 years.

It also marked the first time since the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games that a team had marched through the competition without a loss.

Carey Price made 24 saves to record his second straight Olympic shutout.

Canada's campaign was anchored by an almost impenetrable defence that allowed only three goals over six games, including shutouts over the United States in the semi-finals and Sweden in the final.

The Swedish attack that had already been hit by injuries received another blow just before the opening faceoff when centre Nicklas Backstrom was a shock late scratch. No reason was given for his absence.

Canada's big guns had been silent until the final but they opened up against the Swedes with Toews, Kunitz and Crosby, who scored the overtime winner in the final victory over the United States four years ago, all collecting their first of the Sochi Games when it mattered most.

Toews put Canada in front 13 minutes into opening period when he redirected a pass from Jeff Carter between Henrik Lundqvist's pads.

Crosby brought the capacity crowd at the Bolshoy Ice Dome to their feet in the second when he gained control of the puck near the blueline, fought off a Swedish defender and flipped a backhand past a sprawling Lundqvist.

Kunitz delivered the knockout blow midway through the third when he rifled a wrist shot off the crossbar for a 3-0 lead.

Since ending a 50-year gold medal drought at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, Canadian hockey has undergone a remarkable renaissance their Olympic reign only interrupted by a seventh place finish in Turin in 2006, when Sweden took gold.

The ice hockey gold was the final medal to be decided in Sochi, coming just hours before the closing ceremonies across the Olympic plaza at Fisht Stadium.

It took Canada's Sochi gold tally to 10th, third in the final medal table behind Norway (11) and Russia (13).

The pre-Olympic script had called for Russia to be playing in the final providing what would have been a show-stopping finale to the Sochi Games.

But the ending had to be hastily rewritten after Russia's shock quarter-final defeat by Finland, who in turn lost to the Swedes.

Instead the Games competition closed on a sunny, warm afternoon by the Black Sea with a classic showdown between the reigning Olympic and world champions.

Sweden and Canada had met once before to decide gold with the Swedes coming away with a shootout win at the 1994 Lillehammer Games to be crowned Olympic champions for the first time.

(Editing by Mitch Phillips)

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