Sports

CLASSY CANADA

Canada beat Sweden 3-0 to retain their Winter Olympics men's ice hockey title yesterday, confirming their status as the sport's undisputed superpowers.

Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Chris Kunitz all 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 shut-out.

Canada's campaign was anchored by an almost impenetrable defence that allowed only three goals over six games, including shut-outs 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 face-off 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 US four years ago, all collecting their first of the Sochi Games when it mattered most.

Toews put Canada in front 13 minutes into the 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.

KNOCKOUT BLOW

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- placed 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 10, third in the final medal table behind Norway (11) and Russia (13).

On a glorious final day for the hosts, Russia's cross-country skiers led by Alexander Legkov recorded a stunning clean sweep in the blue riband 50km mass start yesterday, while Alexander Zubkov piloted Russia to gold in the four-man bobsleigh.

Their total of 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals represented an astonishing turnaround from the debacle of Vancouver 2010, where Russia took just three golds in a huge blow to their prestige as a sporting superpower. - Wire Services.