By Frank Pingue
SOCHI, Russia, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Canada captain Sidney Crosby proved his mettle yet again by snapping a tournament-long scoring drought that gave his team some much-needed breathing room in a gold-medal clinching win at the Sochi Games on Sunday.
Crosby, who scored the gold-medal winning overtime goal at the 2010 Vancouver Games, finally broke his scoreless streak late in the second period to give Canada a 2-0 lead over Sweden in a game they went on to win 3-0.
"It's great. The chances were there all tournament long and you just have to trust that eventually it will go in," Crosby told reporters. "Knowing that it's 1-0 and you have a big chance like that, you want to put it in."
Crosby's goal followed a turnover outside the Canadian end of the ice. He pulled away from the Swedish defenders before breaking in alone and beating goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a nifty move to the backhand.
While the goal was not nearly as dramatic as the one he scored in Vancouver, it was enough to sap the wind out of Swedish sails and send Canada into the final period with a relatively comfortable lead.
The goal followed the first of the tournament for Jonathan Toews, who opened the scoring when he re-directed a Jeff Carter pass through Lundqvist's legs 13 minutes into the game.
"You knew those guys weren't going to be able to be held off the entire tournament," said Canadian defenseman Duncan Keith. "That's what great players do, they try to elevate their game. We were playing for the gold medal."
Despite not having a goal going into the gold medal game, Crosby never panicked and was a picture of calm with the media all along, saying he was getting chances and eventually things would turn his way.
For Crosby, considered by many to be the world's greatest player, staying true to his approach proved a success as he helped Canada become the first country to successfully defend their ice hockey gold medal since the Soviet Union triumphed at the 1984 and 1988 Games.
"You always want to score. The chances were there. There wasn't much I wanted to change. I felt like the line as a whole was generating them, the team was generating chances," Crosby told reporters.
"You just have to trust that the puck is going to go in eventually, and luckily today it did." (Editing by Peter Rutherford)