Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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USA vs. Canada: The Rematch

Posted by: Michael Russo under Olympic hockey Updated: February 26, 2010 - 11:27 PM

And ... exhale.

Not just the premature-celebrating Canadians in this hockey arena tonight who were chanting, "We Want USA!" the entire first 10 minutes of the third period, but NBC. You can bet the network was especially holding its breath those last frantic few minutes as the Canadians nearly got tied up.

With a few seconds left, NBC came one Pavol Demitra shot away from a United States-Slovakia gold-medal game. But Demitra, twice in the last few minutes with the game on his stick, couldn't bury the equalizer, and the gold-medal rematch everybody wanted is here:

Sunday at 2:15 p.m. CT,  Canada vs. the United States

And while the Americans waxed the Finns even though they took their foot off the gas the last few periods, the Canadians showed some real vulnerability tonight when the no-risk Slovaks finally decided to try to score. Playing the most conservative game in the history of the sport -- and I know conservative games -- the Slovaks finally forechecked in the third period and the Candians spent 10 minutes on its heels and nearly collapsed.

Canada can be forechecked, and as the Americans have shown during its 5-0 run to the gold-medal game, its got the speed to forecheck with the best of 'em. The Americans are confident, they haven't trailed in the tournament, they haven't been scored upon first in the tournament. 

Who knows where this game would have ended if Marian Gaborik had played the third period? The oft-injured scoring stud didn't play the final 20 minutes. As of right now, it's unknown as to why. He came into the tournament with an injury, and told me two days ago that he was getting injections to be able to play. Did he reaggravate his injury or suffer a new one?

We will see if he plays in Saturday's bronze-medal game against Finland. Miikka Kiprusoff is supposed to get the start over Niklas Backstrom, by the way.

As for U.S.-Canada, it should be a classic. Can't wait.

As for details on the US now, here's Saturday's game story/big picture look at the team

Here's the notebook on David Backes and Ryan Kesler, and odds and ends from today.

Some good American one-liners from today:

“I haven’t scored a goal from that far out in a long time.” – winger Ryan Malone on his easy open-net goal from inside the blue line after Kiprusoff’s early turnover led to Americans’ first goal.
 
“I think it was one of the best games in the tournament because I got to watch most of it.” – U.S. goalie Ryan Miller.
 
“It was a great goal. Why would they pull him?” U.S. defenseman Eric Johnson when asked if he was surprised Finland didn’t pull Kiprusoff after he scored to make it 3-0.
 
Talk to you Saturday after availabilities.
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