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Gudlevskis almost steals the game, but Canada slips by Latvia and into the semis

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The defending gold medalists, Canada got quite the scare from Latvia during Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup.

Despite outshooting the Latvians 57-16, Canada only managed two goals. Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis gave the performance of a lifetime, taming the potent Canadian attack.

"Their goaltender played awesome," said Canadian goaltender Carey Price. "That was one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen in a long time. He played a heck of a game."

Canada did get on the board first, when Patrick Sharp scored his first goal of the tournament in the first period.

Latvia answered two minutes later with a tally of their own, as Lauris Darzins beat Price to knot the contest at one.

And that’s how it would stay until the third.

The pesky Latvians played physical and punished Canada’s forwards in front of their net. Unfortunately, it was the same truculence that kept them in the contest that would ultimately bring their demise.

Defenseman Georgijs Pujacs broke a Canadian stick with an ill-advised slash and was sent to the penalty box. Off of a slick Drew Doughty pass, defenseman Shea Weber blasted the puck past Gudlevskis; who never saw the shot due to a screen.

Worrisome for the Canadians is the lack of scoring from their forwards. With the Weber goal, Canadian defenseman (Weber and Doughty in particular) have now accounted for seven of Canada’s 13 goals in the tournament.

Also worrisome is the injury to Jonathan Tavares. Third in NHL scoring, the New York Islanders captain left the game in the second period and did not return.

"He's got a leg injury, he's out for the tournament," said Canada coach Mike Babcock. "He'll be re-examined by the New York Islanders people and I'm sure they'll have an announcement."

Canada will now face the United States in the semifinals on Friday, in a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game.

"Obviously, we play against them in North America, so we’re familiar with those guys," said Weber. "It’s going to be a great game. They’ve played a great Olympic tournament so far, and it’s going to be exciting."