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San Jose Sharks win gold for Team Canada in Sochi Olympics

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Sochi Olympic hockey

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At least two San Jose Sharks earned medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic might not have scored for Team Canada, but actually played for their nation that earned the gold medal with a win over Team Sweden Sunday, February 23.

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Neither is part of the pictured players of the game, but they played a role. The game was tight until a late goal from Sidney Crosby gave the Canadians a 2-0 lead, but they finished with a 36-24 edge in shots on goal.

Marleau had just one point outside of a three-assist game. Vlasic went scoreless at the Sochi Olympics. However, both were part of a shutdown "defence" (as it is spelled north of the border): Sweden only managed four shots in the third period facing a 2-0 deficit and Canada gave up just three goals all tournament.

Team USA had been the top-scoring men's hockey team in the Sochi Olympics before Team Canada shut them out. Team Sweden had been the top seed in the tournament before Canada blanked them.

The Canadians (men and women) made an emphatic statement in the medal rounds: "Don't let a couple early exits for the men fool you—hockey is still our sport and we are better at it than anyone else on any size ice."

The Sharks bearing gold medals absolutely earned them. Antti Niemi never got the chance to earn anything for Team Finland. He was awarded a bronze medal for being dressed three times as a backup.

Even when starter Tuukka Rask had a poor start to the Sochi Olympics and later was ill, Niemi was not in net. The same goes for both easy games of the preliminary round.

Would the game-winning goal for Team Sweden in the semifinals have been scored if it had not been Kari Lehtonen in net? No one can say for sure, but the play of both goalies after those first few minutes makes it hard to question goalie decisions. (The more important question is, would have been a game-winner if disqualified Nicklas Backstrom had not played?)

Meanwhile, Joe Pavelski had three assists and a goal in the first three games but added nothing after that. The American scoring in general went from riches to rags once they faced a real defense. Consequently, they left without a medal for the third time in the five Olympics with NHL players (both medals were silver).

Finland has four bronze and one silver in that time. Canada has four including three gold medals. Sweden only has two but they are gold and silver. Even the one gold of the Czech Republic is better than two American silvers.

The only major hockey nation Team USA has out-performed is Team Russia. That was also the only team with expectations coming into the Sochi Olympics that finished worse.

The good news for the men is they have the NHL to go to for redemption.

If Pavelski burns badly enough at the disgraceful ending to the American team, he can write over that history by winning a Stanley Cup. If Niemi feels he should have been in net for the Finns, he can prove it by stoning the opposition for the next 15 weeks.

That could be great for San Jose. It also will not hurt that Vlasic and Marleau won gold, either.

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