2002 Olympics in Review
Lemieux Solves The Dominator

Mario Lemieux returned to Canadian lineup claiming to feel fine, though most knew his hip was causing him excruciating pain. It was obvious as Lemieux lumbered around the ice as a mere shadow of the player that he once was. Yet somehow he continued to show he could be the best player in the world.

It was the first Olympic meeting between the two countries since the Czechs' shocking shootout win in the semi-finals of the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan. In that game Dominik Hasek was simply outstanding, joining the likes of Vladislav Tretiak, Vladimir Dzurilla and Jimmy Foster as a Canadian international goaltending nemesis.  But Hasek had not faced off against Mario Lemieux in such competition.

Lemieux scored twice and Joe Nieuwendyk got the tying goal with 3:24 left in the third period as Canada tied the Czech Republic 3-3 in its best game yet at the 2002 Winter Games.

The Canadians came out hitting and aggressively forechecking, clearly playing their best game of the Olympics thus far. The pressure paid off early when Scott Niedermayer sent a long pass out of his zone that Lemieux made a clever move to control the puck off the boards, break in alone on Hasek and score on a low shot between the pads at 9:11.

The Czechs tied it late in the period when Martin Havlat picked up a loose puck to break in and score on a high wrist shot to the glove side of goaltender Martin Brodeur. Brodeur was excellent in the game, and secured the starting goalie role for the remainder of the tournament because of his brilliant play.

Havlat scored again when he was left alone in the slot to take Pavel Kubina's pass and slide it under Brodeur early in the second period.

Late in the second period Lemieux tied the game 2-2 on a controversial high shot that was gloved by goaltender Dominik Hasek, who then rolled back into the net with the puck. The play went to video review where judge Konstantin Komissarov allowed the goal to stand because the glove, with the puck in it, clearly crossed the line and Hasek was not pushed into the net. In the NHL the goal likely would have been disallowed as the puck couldn't be seen in the review and thus the play would have been ruled inconclusive.

Jiri Dopita put the Czechs ahead at 13:17 of the third frame before Nieuwendyk tied it on a one-timer from the slot off a perfect feed from Theoren Fleury.

Another controversy erupted before the game was over when, in the dying seconds of the third period, defenseman Roman Hamrlik first speared Ryan Smyth under the arm, then cross-checked Fleury in the back, causing him to fall heavily to the ice.

Though Fleury escaped serious injury, Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky was livid.

"If one of our guys had done that, people would say we're hooligans," said Gretzky, calling for Hamrlik to be suspended from the tournament.

"I'm tired of people taking shots at Canadian hockey. When we do it, we're hooligans and when they do it, it's OK. That's a crock of crap."

Gretzky said "there should have been four or five penalties and two or three suspensions (against the Czechs) in the third period."

Canada and the Czech Republic both finished the round robin portion of the tournament with 1-1-1 records, but the Czechs took second place in the group because of a better goal differential -- plus-five compared to minus-2 for Canada. In a way the lower finish was actually a break for Canada, as Canada would now face Finland instead of Russia in the opening game of the medal round of the playoffs.


Game Summary

Box Score Canada

1

1

1

3

  Czech Republic

1

1

1

3

First Period

Goals:
09:11 CAN Lemieux (Niedermayer)
18:23 CZE Havlat

Penalties:
06:12 CAN MacInnis (Hooking)
15:29 CZE Dopita (Hooking)
19:51 CAN Foote (Slashing)

Second Period

Goals:
03:11 CZE Havlat (Kubina)
18:49 CAN Lemieux (Yzerman)

Penalties:
05:22 CZE Kaberle (Holding the Stick)
12:23 CZE Rucinsky (Hooking)

Third Period

Goals :
13:17 CZE Dopita (Hamrlik)
56:36 CAN Nieuwendyk (Fleury)

Penalties:
None
Goaltenders Canada Martin Brodeur
  Czech Republic Dominik Hasek

   

First

Second

Third

Final

Shots on Goal by Canada

13

15

8

36

  Czech Republic

6

7

16

29


Officials Referee

McCreary

  Linesmen
Kulakov, Schachte

Attendance 8599