Do you believe it? U.S. beats Canada It's Miller Time: Bode finally golden
• Photo gallery: Winter Olympics Sunday Feb. 21
By ALAN ROBINSON
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Americans didn't believe in miracles. They just believed.
And they pulled off the biggest Olympic hockey upset since the Miracle on Ice, stunning Canada, 5-3, yesterday to advance to the quarterfinals of an already mixed-up tournament.
Brian Rafalski scored two goals, Ryan Miller held off a flurry of shots and the Americans quieted a pro-Canada crowd that came to cheer its dream team, only to see it upstaged by a bunch of unproven kids.
One day short of the 30th anniversary of the country's greatest hockey victory — the unfathomable win over the Soviet Union in Lake Placid, N.Y. — these underrated Americans were faster, more disciplined and more determined than Canada's collection of all-stars.
"We know we can beat anybody now," Rafalski said.
Canada outshot the United States, 45-23, yet couldn't badly dent Miller, the goalie the Americans felt could best stand up to all of Canada's might.
"It's probably one of the biggest games I've ever played," Miller said.
When Ryan Kesler scored in the final minute, the few U.S. fans who managed to get seats proudly waved their American flags, all their red, white and blue suddenly visible.
"You look up and everything's red and white — so few American flags" at the start, said U.S. coach Ron Wilson, who also led the 1996 team that upset Canada in the World Cup. "We expected a hostile environment. The intensity of the game helped, too."
Canada, the gold-medal favorite, plays Germany in a play-in game tomorrow to reach the quarterfinals.
"Just like everybody in this tournament, we're playing to survive," coach Mike Babcock said.
Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner scored to put the U.S. up 4-2 and hold off a relentless late surge by Canada that included Sidney Crosby's power play goal with 3:09 remaining.
Miller made an exceptional save on Rick Nash's shot from the slot with two minutes left to preserve it, and Kesler put it away with an empty-net goal with one hand with 45 seconds left.