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Canada pulls out win over Latvia
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - In desperate need of offense, Canada got it again from its defense.
Shea Weber's power-play goal in the third period helped Canada hold off a determined Latvia team 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the men's hockey tournament.
Though still alive for a shot at a second straight Olympic gold medal, Canada has found offense from its forwards hard to come by. The Canadians came into Wednesday's contest having scored 11 goals in their first three games, but six were off the stick of a defenseman.
Weber had two of those and his third of the tournament kept Canada alive.
With time winding down on the power play, Weber and fellow defenseman Drew Doughty, who has four goals in this tournament, worked the puck back and forth before Weber unleashed a low one-timer from the left point low and just over the pad of Latvia's Kristers Gudlevskis.
That put Canada ahead with 6:54 to play and Latvia didn't have much left in the tank to mount a comeback.
The victory set up an expected matchup between Canada and the U.S., who bested the Czech Republic, on Friday in the semifinals. It will serve as a rematch of the final in 2010, when Sidney Crosby scored 7:40 into overtime for a 3-2 victory by Canada.
The rematch almost didn't happen despite Canada outshooting Latvia 57-16, only to see Gudlevskis stop 55 of them.
Canada outshot Latvia 16-6 in the first period, but found itself in a tie game after 20 minutes.
Patrick Sharp put Canada on the board with 6:23 left in the opening frame as Rick Nash found the forward in the low right circle after carrying the puck behind the net. Sharp went down to one knee and blasted a one-timer home.
Latvia evened the score just over two minutes later on Lauris Darzins' fourth goal of the tournament. He came off the bench on a line change and took a pass behind the Canadian defense, skating in and faking a shot before lifting a backhander over a sprawled out Carey Price.
Darzins had scored twice in Latvia's 3-1 upset win over Switzerland on Tuesday to move his country into the quarterfinals.
Price ended with 15 saves.
Latvia went 0-3 in Group C play before upsetting the Swiss. Destiny seemed to be on its side again on Wednesday as Canada saw a potential game-changing moment go against it.
With 11:23 left in the third, Jonathan Toews poked a rebound behind Gudlevskis, who fell backwards in his crease in an attempt to cover up. The puck was still gliding towards the goal line and looked on its way in before Latvia's Kristaps Sotnieks pulled it back with his glove hand.
The play was reviewed, but still ruled no goal.
Canada's struggling forward group also took a hit in the game when John Tavares was forced to exit in the second period after taking a hard hit. He did not return.
02/19 14:50:33 ET