SOCHI, Russia – If there were any complaints about Team Canada not winning its Olympic opener by a large margin, those were silenced a day later.
Led by Jeff Carter’s hat trick, Canada found plenty of offence and hammered Austria 6-0 on Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome. This was the kind of blowout most expected in the first two games of this tournament.
Carter, who was serving as the 13th forward and played the fewest minutes on the team, scored his three goals in succession in the second period. The Canadians also got goals from Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and Ryan Getzlaf.
It was the first natural hat trick by a Canadian men’s hockey player at the Olympics since Paul Knox did it in 1956, also against Austria. And Carter did it in his first 12 shifts and under five minutes of ice time.
Roberto Luongo, who was tested a lot early on odd-man rushes by the aggressive Austrians, made 23 saves to pick up the shutout. It’s unclear if it’ll be Luongo or Carey Price in goal Sunday when Canada plays Finland for the top spot in Group B.
Canada should be glad it poured it on offensively against Austria because goal differential determines seeding moving forward.
Unlike the opener against Norway, Canada didn’t have a slow start to worry about against Austria. Its first shot came 35 seconds in, and John Tavares forced Starkbaum to make a big save five minutes into the game.
The faceoff following the stop on Tavares gave Canada an offensive-zone faceoff that Jonathan Toews won easily back to Doughty, who waited for the centre and Rick Nash to set screens before firing a long shot past Starkbaum at 5:24.
Starkbaum was even more helpless on Weber’s goal at 10:12. Corey Perry’s between-the-legs drop pass got to Weber just inside the blue-line, and the big defenceman’s rocket of a shot went off the back bar and in.
The horn was delayed going off, and officials immediately signalled that it would be reviewed. But as Perry skated over the goal line after making the pass, he had a clear line of sight to see the puck go in and quickly out of the net, certainly a better view than Austria’s goaltender.
It remained a two-goal lead for Canada until 2:39 into the second when Carter scored his first of the night. Sidney Crosby sent Patrick Marleau a perfect pass, and when the shot hit the post, Carter was on the doorstep to tap the rebound into an empty net.
That was only the beginning of Carter’s productive period. At 4:08, Marleau took advantage of a puck-handling misadventure by Starkbaum, and Carter was the beneficiary as he tucked it inside the post.
Later in the period, Carter was at the right place at the right time again, finding a loose puck after Marleau was banging away and tapping it in at the 14:33 mark to complete the natural hat trick.
Even after Perry was stopped on a penalty shot, Canada wasn’t done scoring. This time it was Getzlaf pulling a toe-drag move on the Austrians and lifting a back-hander past Starkbaum for a short-handed goal at 16:48.
NOTES—With forward Matt Duchene entering the lineup, Patrick Sharp was a healthy scratch for Canada. P.K. Subban replaced Dan Hamhuis on defence, and Mike Smith served as Luongo’s backup. … The attendance was announced as 8,967, less than Canada’s opener against Norway in the 12,000-seat arena.