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Ranking the 10 Best Hockey Plays of the 2014 Olympics

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2014

Ranking the 10 Best Hockey Plays of the 2014 Olympics

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The 2014 Sochi Olympics are complete. Hockey fans enjoyed two weeks of outstanding play and are already talking about the 2018 tournament. Canada won gold, Sweden silver and Finland surprised by winning bronze.

    Before we say goodbye to Sochi, let's have a look back at the biggest hockey moments of the Olympics. Here are the best plays of the 2014 Games.

10. T.J. Oshie, Shootout Hero

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Setting the Scene

    Team USA and Russia were tied after regulation and overtime in the showcase game of the preliminary round. A shootout would decide the winner.

     

    How It Happened

    After scoring three shootout goals (and being matched by Russian superstars Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk), T.J. Oshie's fourth goal sealed the win.

     

    Why It's Here

    Oshie's performance ranks as a unique accomplishment. USA coach Dan Bylsma went with the hot hand (Oshie took all but two of the eight shots) and was rewarded with the win. Oshie's unusual style was compelling and delivered an unforgettable result.

9. Alexander Ovechkin Scores Early

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    Team Russia entered the tournament under enormous pressure. The Russian people cheered for all of their Olympians, but there was no doubt the men's hockey medal represented the ultimate for the country.

     

    How It Happened

    Ovechkin skated in over the Slovenian blue line 1:17 into Russia's opening game. He sent a wrist shot into the Slovenian net for the first Russian goal of the Olympics. The crowd erupted, and the tournament was underway.

     

    Why It's Here

    Ovechkin's goal represents the highest moment for Team Russia at the Olympics. As Dan Levy of Bleacher Report details, things did not end well for the Russian team. The beginning, with Ovechkin scoring, was magical.

8. Edgars Masalskis Leads Latvia Past Switzerland

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    Team Latvia entered the medal round against Switzerland as the underdog. Goaltender Edgars Masalskis expected to be very busy.

     

    How It Happened

    As reported by AP's Andrew Podnieks, Latvia scored two first-period goals to get the jump on Team Switzerland. After that, they rode excellent goaltending to the victory. Late in the game, Swiss forward Reto Suri got a clear look at the goal, but Masalskis was the better man.

     

    Why It's Here

    For a small nation like Latvia, the victory over Switzerland represents a breakthrough in the international hockey scene. They bowed quickly to Canada in the quarterfinal but have a chance to build on their Sochi showing in the future.

7. Teemu Selanne's Winning Goal in the Quarterfinals

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    The quarterfinal between Russia and Finland was highly anticipated, with the home country favored. Russia scored eight minutes in and took a 1-0 lead.

     

    How It Happened

    Finland tied the score a couple of minutes later, and then Selanne scored at 17:38 of the first period. Russia could not find the equalizer.

     

    Why It's Here:

    Most fans projected Finland to finish outside of the top four in this tournament, meaning they would need to beat two hockey powers to win a medal. Selanne's goal sealed the win against Russia in the quarterfinals.

6. Shea Weber Stops Doomsday Clock Just in Time

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport

    Setting the Scene

    Team Canada played Latvia in the quarterfinals. On paper, it was considered a huge mismatch, with Canada expected to dominate.

     

    How It Happened

    Latvia gave up the first goal of the game to Canada just past the midway point of the first period. They quickly tied the score, and the second period solved nothing. As the third period rolled along, Canadian fans began to fear a lucky Latvian goal would cost a medal. At 13:06 of the third period, Shea Weber ripped a slap shot into the net, ensuring victory.

     

    Why It's Here

    Canada's expectations in men's hockey involves a medal. Losing to Latvia in the quarterfinals is not in any script, and yet there was potential for it to happen. Weber's goal saved the day.

5. David Backes' Late-Period Goal Dashes the Czechs

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    Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    The Czech Republic had a lot of jump early in their quarterfinal matchup against Team USA. The game was tied late in the first period, and play was even.

     

    How It Happened

    David Backes set up Dustin Brown for the 2-1 goal and then scored with just two seconds left in the period. The Czechs would never catch up.

     

    Why It's Here

    The Backes assist and then goal changed the game. It was a close, hard-fought match before the two goals, and Team USA never looked back after Backes' fine work.

4. Erik Karlsson's Goal That Sank Finland

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    Sweden and Finland were tied at 1-1 during their semifinal game. Sweden was thought to be the better team, but in a tight contest, anything can happen.

     

    How It Happened

    In the second period, Erik Karlsson's point shot eluded Kari Lehtonen, and that goal made the difference. Despite a strong third period by Finland, Team Sweden prevailed 2-1.

     

    Why It's Here

    Sweden overcame many injuries in Sochi, and the highlight of the Olympics came against archrival Finland. Karlsson's goal was the key.

3. Jamie Benn's Lone Goal Trumps Team USA

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    Canada and Team USA met in the semifinals. The games between these two nations are normally free-wheeling, but Canada employed a more stifling defensive style than they have in the past.

     

    How It Happened

    Early in the intense game, Jamie Benn tipped the puck past Jonathan Quick for the only goal. Despite what's been written since, the two nations are far closer in quality than their final standing at the Olympics.

     

    Why It's Here

    Canada's biggest test came in the semifinal game, against a healthy and high-octane USA team. The 1-0 final score reflects Canada's attention to defense.

2. Teemu Selanne's Goodbye

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    Team Finland always finds a way to play in a medal game. Sochi was no exception, as they fought past Russia before losing to Sweden in the semifinals. In the bronze-medal game, they would face the USA.

     

    How It Happened

    With about 11 minutes left in his final Olympics, and with the game well in hand, Teemu Selanne scored his second goal of the game. It is likely his final goal for Finland in international competition.

     

    Why It's Here

    Selanne's wonderful career includes four Olympic medals, and his final goals came in a medal game. His goodbye is one of the more emotional moments of the Sochi Games for hockey fans.

1. Jonathan Toews' Golden Goal

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Setting the Scene

    Team Canada and Team Sweden met for the gold-medal game on Sunday. Sweden won the gold in 2006, and Canada won four years later. Sunday represented the rubber match.

     

    How It Happened

    At 12:55 of the first period, in a 0-0 tie, Jonathan Toews deflected a pass into the Swedish net. Canada was clear in the gold-medal game and would not look back.

     

    Why It's Here

    The golden goal in every Olympics holds a special status in the games. Toews' goal didn't have the flourish of Sidney Crosby's overtime winner in Vancouver, but fans will remember it forever.

Bonus: Carey Price Stops Everything

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Setting the Scene

    Entering the Sochi Games, one of the questions surrounding Team Canada was goaltending. Carey Price was named the starter and stepped into the Olympic spotlight.

     

    How It Happened

    After giving up a quarterfinal goal to Latvia at 15:41 of the first period, Price did not allow a goal. In elimination games against the USA and Sweden, he was perfect. 

     

    Why It's Here

    Price played the biggest games in Sochi without allowing a goal. Sweden and USA are impact teams, and his efforts are a memorable part of the Games.

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