SOCHI, Russia — Based on Jeff Carter’s hat trick and Drew Doughty’s game-opening goal in Canada’s 6-0 Olympic victory over Austria on Friday, you’d never know the Kings are one of the NHL’s lowest-scoring teams.
Carter, who began Friday’s game as Canada’s 13th forward, and standout defenseman Doughty have managed to leave the Kings’ offensive struggles behind in North America. Carter’s hat trick was a natural one — three straight goals — and Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf increased the Southern California hockey presence by scoring a shorthanded goal to help Canada improve to 2-0 in preliminary-round play.
“It’s not very often I like to watch them going in the net from him,” Getzlaf said of Carter, evoking the Ducks-Kings rivalry. “It’s great to see Carts get around the net the way he does and obviously he did a great job banging them in tonight.”
Roberto Luongo stopped 23 shots for the shutout and insisted that Carter keep the game puck as a souvenir after Carter tried to award it to him. It rightfully belonged to Carter, whose selection to the Olympic team was widely debated in Canada.
“He didn’t have to do anything spectacular to get those goals. He was just in the right spot at the right time,” Doughty said. “That’s why he’s a pure goal scorer — he’s in the right spot. He knows where the puck’s going to go and he gets empty nets and he did a great job of that tonight.”
Doughty, from a stride inside the blue line, and Shea Weber, on a bullet of a shot, gave Canada a 2-0 lead in the first period. Carter then took over and scored first on a rebound in front, again after an Austria giveaway and a third time when he jammed the puck in from short range.
“It just kind of happened. I was in the right place at the right time for pretty much all of them,” said Carter, who leads the Kings with 20 goals in 49 games.
“My linemates did a great job of getting in and winning pucks and getting pucks to the net and I was able to get a couple in. Nothing pretty.”
Carter said he didn’t initially realize he had recorded the hat trick. No hats were thrown from the stands to celebrate. “That Olympic gear is expensive. I’m sure they didn’t want to lose it,” he said.
Most important for the defending champions was the team’s continued improvement since a slow start in its opener, a 3-1 victory over Norway. Canada will finish preliminary-round play on Sunday against Finland, which also is 2-0 and figures to pose a tougher challenge than Norway and Austria could muster.
“I think we feel better as a team,” Getzlaf said. “We’ve been to a lot of these events and we know that it’s a progression throughout this whole thing. That’s the biggest emphasis that we’ve got to focus on, that we’ve got to get better as the tournament goes on.”
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