Team USA coach Dan Bylsma gave Capitals defenseman John Carlson the monumental task of shutting down Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Jeff Carter and the rest of Team Canada in front of a worldwide television audience.
The result was certainly not one the Americans wanted – Canada squeezed out a 1-0 victory on the strength of Jamie Benn’s second-period goal to earn a berth in Sunday’s gold medal game against Sweden – but Carlson stood up to the challenge.
Playing in place of Paul Martin on a shut-down defense pairing with Brooks Orpik, Carlson logged 16:34 of ice time on 23 shifts.
He rifled two shots at Canada goaltender Carey Price, including a golden scoring chance midway through the first period that was gloved by Price. Carlson joined the rush and had a clear path to the net. He snapped a shot from about 35 feet away that Price snatched out of the air.
Carlson was on the ice for the game’s only goal, a Jamie Benn redirection from the right side of USA goaltender Jonathan Quick with 1:41 gone in the second period. Carlson was in front of the net locked in a fencing duel with Corey Perry when Jay Bouwmeester’s pass/shot went off the stick of Benn and past Quick.
With 6:30 remaining in the game and the U.S. pressing for the tying goal, Carlson was left alone in the right circle but Max Pacioretty elected to shoot from the right circle and his shot sailed wide right.
With 2:18 remaining in the game, Carlson made one of the best defensive plays of the game with a sliding stop on Carter, who was leading a 2-on-1 rush.
Bylsma also showed faith in Carlson by sending him over the boards in the final minute, after pulling Quick for the extra attacker. But Canada did a nice job of sealing the puck along the wall, preventing the Americans from creating a good scoring chance in the final seconds.
Carlson and the Americans will now face Finland in the bronze medal game at 10 a.m. on Saturday. He’s expected to return to practice with the Capitals on Tuesday or Wednesday in Arlington.
John Carlson’s Stats
Points – 0
Penalty Minutes – 0
Shots – 2
Plus-Minus – Minus-1
Time on Ice – 16:34
Shifts – 23
Average Ice Time - 0 43