There are a ton of stories from Sunday night’s game: the upset, Martin Brodeur’s questionable decision-making, Sidney Crosby’s ghost like presence—in the sense that I didn’t hear his name mentioned after the opening whistle, the big-time effort from the United States’ veterans.
But the 5-3 U.S. victory can largely be attributed to Ryan Miller, who did what everyone was expecting and played arguably the best game of his career.
In a game reminiscent of Jim Craig’s effort against the Soviet team in the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” Miller stood on his head and stopped opportunity after opportunity with some of the most spectacular saves imaginable.
When the United States grabbed the lead early in the first, and regained it shortly after Canada had tied it up, Miller stopped shot after shot—some easy, some very difficult.
Although Canada outshot the U.S. 19-6 in the first period, Miller did what he has been doing all season and kept his team in the game—the U.S. led 2-1 after one as a result.
“My job is just to stay very consistent and keep it very simple,” Miller said after the game.
Almost immediately after the United States made it 4-2 in the third period, Miller threw his stickback on a Canadian two-on-one and stopped what should have been a sure goal.
The three goals that Miller did let up were pretty much unstoppable.
Miller had no chance on a gorgeous first period deflection from Eric Staal and had even less of a chance when Dany Heatley was left wide open in front of the net to bury the puck in the second.
The third goal came directly after Miller had stopped a barrage of shots on the previous play. Sidney Crosby was left unmarked and was able to get his stick on a nice feed from Rick Nash.
While Brodeur was shaky on one end of the ice, Miller was consistent the whole night—and Miller saved his best for last.
As previously mentioned, Miller’s best effort of the night was late in the game when Canada was on the power play and threatening to cut the lead in half. Even though Canada did make the game 4-3 on the next play, Miller stopped three consecutive shots: a breakaway from Nash, a high wrist shot from Crosby, and another wrist shot from Jarome Iginla which Miller gloved effortlessly.
When all was said and done, Miller stopped 42 shots—but more importantly, he gave the United States the hope it needed heading into the medal rounds.
“It is Canada-U.S.,” Miller said. “We’re happy to get the win and we’re happy to get the rest of the day off.”