Skip to main content

Alex Ovechkin thwarted by Team Canada

Jonathan Toews, Shea Weber among group to help shut down Team Russia forward

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

TORONTO -- No time. No space. No possession.

Want to shut down Alex Ovechkin and whoever he plays with? Those are the three principles, the keys to live by.

Team Canada lived like kings in its 5-3 win against Team Russia in the semifinal of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on Saturday.

Team Canada's so-called checking line of Jonathan Toews, Logan Couture and Corey Perry with the shutdown defense pair of Shea Weber and Marc-Edouard Vlasic were tasked with following Ovechkin over the boards whenever possible. They never let him even sniff a scoring chance because they shut down his linemates and stopped them from getting the puck to him.

Ovechkin, who played shifts with both centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Evgeni Malkin, was limited to one shot attempt, a quiet wrist shot from the left point that was easily steered aside by goalie Carey Price, in 22 shifts totaling 20:29 of ice time.

Toews was on the ice for 16 of Ovechkin's 18 even-strength shifts as well as three of his four power-play shifts. Weber and Vlasic were on for 13 of his even-strength shifts and three of his power-play shifts. Drew Doughty and Jay Bouwmeester got six shifts each against Ovechkin too.

Team Canada moves on to the best-of-3 final, where it will play the winner of the other semifinal between Team Sweden and Team Europe at Air Canada Centre on Sunday (1 p.m. ET; ESPN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"Against his line especially, time and space, just be in their face," Vlasic said. "As soon as they get it if you're there or your stick is there, it doesn't necessarily frustrate guys but he can't make his plays.

"Kuznetsov likes to pass it, but if he never has the puck he can never pass it to Ovechkin."

Video: Crosby, Marchand lead Canada to 5-3 win over Russia

In addition to smothering Ovechkin's linemates and preventing them from getting him the puck in the offensive zone, Team Canada also forced them to play a lot in the defensive zone.

Toews won 11 of 14 faceoffs when Ovechkin was on the ice. His line scored a goal with Ovechkin on the ice, Perry's first of the tournament at 5:48 of the third period. It gave Team Canada a 4-2 lead.

Perry and Weber each had six shots on goal, tied for the team lead with Brad Marchand, who scored twice. Toews, Perry, Couture, Weber and Vlasic combined for 17 shots and 34 shot attempts.

"If you have the puck they're not going to have it," Weber said. "I thought the Toews line did a really good job of cycling down low like they always do. I mean, [Perry] is known for cycling the puck down low when he's with [Ryan Getzlaf] in Anaheim and I thought they did a good job of holding onto it and making them work in their 'D' zone and not allowing them to play offense."

Team Canada coach Mike Babcock credited Weber for not getting worn down playing against Ovechkin.

"Ovi is a big, big man and can wear you down," Babcock said. "[Weber] doesn't get worn down."

Babcock mentioned how he liked the pair with Vlasic. He also called Toews and Couture "two real smart hockey players" who are better than the sum of their parts, and credited Perry for accepting his role on that line.

"Corey Perry, I never thought at the start [of the tournament] would ever play in that situation," Babcock said. "I just talked to [Perry] and I said a number of times this is what we need you to do for us to have success. So he's all-in and doing a good job. He's a winner, he's won everywhere he's been, so he's doing a good job."

They all did it against Ovechkin and whoever he played with Saturday. They limited their time with the puck and took away their space. They prevented Ovechkin from being a threat in transition by forcing him to exert himself in the defensive zone.

They lived like kings against the best goal scorer in the world. Two more wins and they will be kings of the world.

View More