Canada entered its final preliminary-round matchup against South Korea as a heavy favorite. Its roster boasted 5,544 combined games of NHL experience while the Koreans had just 27, and the gulf in quality showed as the Canadians outclassed their opponents 4-0 to clinch a bye to the quarterfinals.
South Korea goaltender Matt Dalton rebounded strongly after a rough night between the pipes against Switzerland the day before, when he was chased after letting in five goals on 27 shots. Dalton saved the first 13 shots he faced against Canada-but the early constant pressure proved too much. Christian Thomas skated the puck up the gut and whipped a wrist shot from the slot that sniped the top corner on Dalton’s glove side.
The hosts responded admirably, however, and swung momentum onto their side after a high stick knocked out Oh Hyon-ho’s tooth to give South Korea an extended power play on the double minor. Only a number of good stops from Canadian goaltender Kevin Poulin denied the underdogs a tying goal.
But Canada stymied Korea’s push late in the second period, when Marc-Andre Gragani’s shot ricocheted of the boards onto Eric O’Dell’s stick. Dalton misread the bounce, turning the wrong way, and O’Dell had an easy tap-in to double his team’s lead.
The Canadians took full control of the game from that point: They scored two goals in the third period to secure the win. Maxim Lapierre skated in from the right wing and sneaked the puck through Dalton’s near post to make it three.
Gilbert Brule added a fourth on a power play in the closing minutes.
Despite conceding four goals, Dalton still finished the night with a .918 save percentage after making 45 stops on 49 shots. Poulin had a less busy game in net, turning away all 19 Korean efforts in a shutout.
Canada earns a rest after its win. The team will keep an eye on the qualification playoffs to determine its opponent in the quarterfinals, while South Korea looks to keep its maiden Olympic campaign alive with an upset over Finland on Feb. 21. Puck drop is slated for 7:10 a.m. Canada awaits the winner of that game exactly a day later.