Duchene Set for Olympics Debut vs. Austria
CANADA vs. AUSTRIA
When: Friday, 12 p.m. ET (USA, CBC)
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome
What's at stake: Canada is back in action one day after sweating out a 3-1 win against Norway. A favorite to win the gold medal, the Canadians will have a new look in goal with Roberto Luongo, who led his country to gold in 2010, getting the start Friday. Mike Smith will back up and Carey Price, the winning goaltender Thursday, will not dress. Austria finds itself in need of a win after starting strong but fading fast in an 8-4 loss to Finland on Thursday.
Canada: It took Canada more than 26 minutes to get going against the pesky Norwegians. Once Shea Weber scored the game's first goal with a blast from the left point, Canada earned a victory that may have lacked style points but showed that the Canadians can grind it out in addition to light up the scoreboard.
Four years ago Canada blasted Norway 8-0 in its Olympic opener. This year Canadian players tipped their hats to a tough opponent.
"It was tighter than we thought. We knew they were going to come out hard," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "I thought for a first game it was good. We just kept getting better as the game went on."
Canadian head coach Mike Babcock is expected to play Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, who was a healthy scratch vs. Norway.
Austria: When Michael Grabner scored 36 seconds into the game and the Austrians took a 2-1 lead against Finland at 9:19 of the first period, it appeared as if an upset was in the making. However, three unanswered goals by the Finns ended any hope. In fact, the result could have been worse if not for goalie Bernhard Starkbaum, whom Finland peppered with 52 shots.
"In case we didn't know what we were up against, we got a reality check," Austrian forward Thomas Vanek said. "You've got to play a certain way and I think we didn't do it. Our goalie needs to be our best player and we need to help him more."
Playing in his first Olympics Grabner had a hat trick, but he and the Austrians were undone by two goals in eight seconds at the end of the first that essentially put the game away.
"It's always nice and fun to score goals, but at the same time you want to win games," Grabner said. "Unfortunately [Thursday] we gave them too many chances and they capitalized on most of them. When you get scored on in the last minute it gets the morale of the team down a little bit and then you have to work it back up. But it is tough against a team like that that is so skilled and so fast."
What's next: The teams complete their preliminary round play in Group B on Sunday when Canada plays Finland and Austria faces Norway.