NHL Year in Review: John Carlson for Play of the Year
There was a ton of international hockey of note in 2010. One of the big events was the IIHF World Junior Championships, contested in Saskatchewan. Host Canada had won five straight gold medals going back to 2004, when the United States won the event for the first -- and to that point only -- time.
On Dec. 31, 2009, Canada beat the United States in a shootout, rallying from a two-goal deficit to win and clinch their group. That meant the Americans had to play an extra game in the medal round, while Canada received a bye into the semifinals. The Canadians won their semifinal game over Switzerland, and Team USA followed a quarterfinal win over Finland with a semifinal win over Sweden. That set the stage for the two to meet again for the gold medal in Saskatoon.
It was another back-and-forth affair on Jan. 5, with Canada scoring first before the Americans answered. Team USA actually took a 5-3 lead in the third period before a late Canada comeback knotted the score a 5-5 and forced overtime.
In the IIHF, overtime in the medal round is a 20-minute period played at four-on-four. If no one scores, they go to a shootout. As you can probably expect, it's nearly impossible for two highly-skilled teams to play four-on-four hockey for 20 minutes without some serious scoring chances.
It took less than four minutes for one of those chances to find the back of the net in the gold-medal game. After a Canada rush was thwarted by U.S. goaltender Jack Campbell, the Americans took the rebound and started a three-on-one rush the other way. Defenseman John Carlson, now with the NHL's Washington Capitals, led the charge, and his work brought the United States a gold medal.
It's also one of our nominees for Play of the Year.