In Vancouver, on Feb. 28, 2010, in the final event of the Winter Olympics, the matchup most everyone at the Games wanted came to fruition: United States facing host Canada for gold in men's hockey. Here, retold to ESPN.com in their own words, are the remembrances of the players, coaches, officials and outside observers of that tension-filled day few in the hockey world will soon forget.
BEFORE THE GAME
A week earlier, Canada had lost 5-2 to the upstart Americans, who would ultimately go undefeated in the preliminary round. The rematch, with the gold medal on the line, was scheduled for noon PT at Canada Hockey Place (known as GM Place when Olympic sponsors aren't involved). In the athletes village, where the players were rooming together in a dorm-like setting, thoughts upon waking turned immediately to the game.
Jonathan Toews, Team Canada: "You couldn't bear the time before the game. You just needed the game to start and you couldn't wait any longer. It was a long, restless night the night before, a million thoughts running through your head. You're just trying to stay calm and worry about the game when you come to. It's impossible not to think about the game on that stage, I guess. U.S. versus Canada on home soil, it doesn't get any better than that."
Sidney Crosby, Team Canada: "I was with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Shea Weber. I want to say there were six guys total, it might have been nine. I can't remember. But there was a little common area and it had like a couch, no TV or anything, just a couch there and a table. And there were rooms to each side and one room had three beds in it and a bathroom.
"I just remember even the fact that it was a little bit earlier, it was nice. Kind of leading up to it, I don't remember a lot being that much different. Just try and go about your normal routine. I think having played in the finals a couple of times, playing in a Game 7, you just try and treat as much as you can like another game, even though it's not. That's kind of why you have your routine, is for those days you want to make sure you're ready to play mentally and physically."
David Backes, Team USA: "It was one of those things where you woke up and said, 'I'm going to play for a gold medal today.' Those types of emotions don't come that often. You try and harness that and try to get a good breakfast in you to make sure you're giving everything you can to make your team successful. Butterflies and nerves, but knowing that we've done a lot of great work already in that tournament and we've got a chance to be the best team in the world at the Olympic level."
Zach Parise, Team USA: "Really, I slept well, if I remember right. But I woke up with butterflies right away. They didn't go away all the way until the puck dropped.
"I stuck with everything the same. I guess as a hockey player, we kind of fall victim to that superstition stuff. I always ate in the village. I always had the same thing in the morning for breakfast. I tried to do the same thing at the same time."
Corey Perry, Team Canada: "My roommate was [Jarome] Iginla. And then there was [Brent] Seabrook, [Marc-Andre] Fleury, [Mike] Richards, [Dany] Heatley, [Patrick] Marleau and [Martin] Brodeur, I think. It was interesting because everybody kind of gathered in ours. We had the one TV and the couches and everybody always gathered in there. It was kind of a cool setup."
Jamie Langenbrunner, Team USA: "We had three in ours: myself, Jack Johnson and Bobby Ryan. Being the older guy, I had my own room and those two shared a room.
"You know what? It was very much the same. Obviously, we knew the magnitude of that game. But when you're playing in the Olympics, every game there are nerves. Go back to the quarterfinals, where it's do-or-die, as well. Maybe it was a little more, but we'd been preparing for it the whole two weeks.
"I think, going into the Olympics, it was a very young team. Chris Drury and Brian Rafalski and I were the only Olympians. I think we did a lot of talking early on, just about being who we are and being our team. ... We'd put ourselves in this situation. We were the only team that hadn't lost a game and we played pretty well in every game.
"Going into the gold-medal game, they told us we could have moved into another [bigger] locker room. We said, 'Nah, we'll just stay in our usual locker room.' Keep with our same routine."
Brooks Orpik, Team USA: "I think being the gold-medal game, too, I think it gave you a lot less time to think about it and get nervous about it. You kind of just got up and the game was on you before you knew it. I think that was good for everybody.
"I don't think I was very nervous at all. I think the early start time had a lot to do with that."
Roberto Luongo, Team Canada: "You're nervous. It was a huge moment in my career, in my life. The good news was that it was a 12 o'clock game. You didn't have time to sit on it. You got up, you ate and you went to the rink. That was a good thing, you didn't have to sit on it all day and build up more nerves and that kind of stuff."
Joe Pavelski, Team USA: "We had the luxury of playing at noon every day in that tournament leading up to the gold-medal game, which was pretty nice. We had that same schedule every day, you didn't have to travel for pregame skates, you just stayed in your routine, wake up and walk over to get food and then walk over to the rink."
Scott Niedermayer, Team Canada: "Yeah, it's different. There's no doubt. The trick is to try not to let it be. And that's a hard thing to do. Pretty exciting getting up that day. Even the night before, you know, lying in bed knowing what's going to happen tomorrow, the opportunity and the stage and all that stuff. I had that same feeling going into a seventh game of a series or a Stanley Cup final.
"The trick is to try and stay focused and just do what you need to do to have success, what you'd done up to that point. Easier said than done.
"I think as a team and how we'd progressed and how we stuck together, I think we felt pretty good. I mean, we still felt the pressure and excitement and all that. I know I didn't feel any anxiety. A bad anxiety. No questions. I mean, I didn't really have a question in my head. Are we going to win this? I certainly believed we were going to win it. I think going into a game with that attitude is probably the right way to do; not always easy to do, considering what has happened and who we were playing. They had obviously beat us before."
Brenden Morrow, Team Canada: "They beat us 5-2 previously. I knew that the pressure was on us at that point in the tournament. Well, from the onset of it. Just hosting it, then losing that game against a U.S. team, they were young, energetic, didn't have the pressure on them."
Patrick Kane, Team USA: "For some reason, I slept pretty good that night. I felt good about that.
"It's weird. You go to the Olympics, and everyone goes to the cafeteria to eat. You're in there eating with your team and then a couple tables over the Canadians are eating, too. And then you see each other walking back and forth from the bus. It's just kind of a weird aura before the game even starts or even at the rink."
Ryan Callahan, Team USA: "Just a lot of excitement leading up to the game; it was different than a playoff game. You're excited for a playoff game, but you can feel the energy in the city, the energy of the guys on the team and what we were about to go out and play for. It's hard to describe that feeling you have."
Bill McCreary, referee: "We sat down in the morning for breakfast, the four officials that were working the game, Jean Morin and [Stefan Fonselius, from Finland] and Danny O'Halloran. I went for a walk. You want to get out in the fresh air and feel good about yourself. Because it's an afternoon game, your routine changes a little bit. I remember the ambience in the city, everyone was just embracing it. It was a great spectacle.
"We got there close to two hours before the game. All the guys just wanted to get there and sort of put aside all of that emotional side of the stuff we were witnessing. We knew it was time to get to work."
Doug Armstrong, management, Team Canada: "I walked to the game by myself, just nervous energy I guess, knowing it wasn't in your control how it was going to end."
Joe Pavelski: "The one thing I really remember from that morning was all the red in the entrance to the rink that day. Going through those lines outside, you remember the massive lines of people waiting out there, all in red."
Ryan Miller, Team USA: "I felt at ease. It was a good tournament. I was thinking about putting a big game together to give the guys a chance to win. Throughout that whole tournament, we put an emphasis on everyone being selected to do a part, we had a game plan and everyone had to deliver their job. And every player had throughout the tournament. I just tried to keep my mind in that kind of space and just give guys a chance that day.
"Everyone was pretty calm, as I remember it. The guys were appropriately loose, at a good level. Guys that need to joke around were joking around, guys who like to focus were focused, it felt like a normal game. That's how it felt like to me, at least. And to me, those are good signs."
Ryan Whitney, Team USA: "It was me and Ryan Malone, we had a thing in Pittsburgh. We would mess around and make fun of things we didn't do well. I would tell him to skate fast and he would tell me to be physical. We would get the boys laughing.
"We got to the rink around 9:30 or 10. I think I ate around 8:30 with Bugsy Malone and Brooks Orpik and a couple other guys. There was so much nervous energy. Everything went by so quick. You felt like you were getting ready for the game from the moment you woke up."
Paul Stastny, Team USA: "As the game got closer, butterflies started. You get nervous before every game. That's just part of the business. It's tough to beat the same team twice in a short tournament. The pressure was on them, but after we beat them, we had expectations that we were going to win. ... Guys were focused. We had Whitney, he was doing a good job in the locker room of keeping everyone calm. He kept it light in there. He did a good job of pumping everyone's tires and getting everyone loose. ... It's one of those games where you don't need speeches."
Rick Nash, Team Canada: "I've always said that once you get to the rink, time doesn't really matter to me. Once you take your suit off and get into your clothes to go onto the ice, half hour before warm-up, hour and a half, you start stretching -- whatever it may be -- once you get to the rink, there's never been any time for me. I've always been very set on game day."
Ed Olczyk, color commentator, NBC: "I had the feeling that we were on the verge of something real special, considering how the tournament went. Just kind of everything leading up to it. It did have the feeling of one of those unique days -- expect the unexpected, people were going to see the best of the best."
Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner: "I remember the excitement in the city walking the streets was palpable. It was like nothing else in the world besides the gold-medal game existed.
"The streets were mobbed and the restaurants were mobbed and the bars were mobbed. I remember we went for lunch around lunchtime and they told us, you have to be out in 45 minutes because we've sold the table for the entire afternoon."
Patrick Sharp, Team Canada, 2014: "I went back to my hometown in Thunder Bay [Ontario] and watched all the games. I followed the tournament pretty closely. I just remember thinking how big a stage it was, and maybe it was because I was back in Canada, I'm not sure, but I felt I was nervous myself just watching the games. I was thinking, 'This is as big a stage for hockey as it can get.'"
Duncan Keith, Team Canada: "I was walking to the bus to head to the game. I was walking by myself and I remember thinking how nervous I was and anxious and excited. I just remember feeling, I'd never been that nervous before a game in my entire life."
PREGAME, WARM-UP, NATIONAL ANTHEMS AND EARLY IN THE GAME
Hearing the frenzied crowd, feeling the tension while getting dressed in their respective locker rooms, reinforced to the players what was riding on this game. A record average of 27.6 million Americans and 16.6 million Canadians -- half of the country's population, in the case of the latter -- were tuning in to watch.
Patrick Kane: "To be honest with you, I don't think we knew how crazy it was going to be when we got there."
Paul Stastny: "In the locker room, you could feel the atmosphere; you could hear it. It was like, 'Let's just get this game started.' It was so much excitement."
Zach Parise: "It's a different feeling. There was just such a different vibe around the locker room. And even just amongst each other, just knowing what was at stake."
Ryan Callahan: "It was [loud]. Like I said, that goes to the energy you feel, not only in the building, but the whole city leading up to it and the day before. Being in Vancouver, such a hockey city; it was a cool place. We knew we were up against a tough opponent. ... We were going into a tough game, knew it would be close."
Paul Stastny: "It really hits you when you're out there for warm-ups. It couldn't be any louder for warm-ups. Everybody was so excited for it. Honestly, it reminded me of when you see the commercials of the U.S. national soccer team playing in Mexico or something. ... That warm-up was louder than any NHL arena in playoff time. You can't even describe how loud it was. After that, you realize the magnitude."
Jonathan Toews: "For us, it was all or nothing. I think it is anytime for Canada at the Olympics. But to be at home with our home fans, with the efforts of all the different Canadian athletes were putting out to win golds, win medals for our country, that's the one we expected to win. Anything less than that is disappointing. You're constantly reminded of that when you're in that atmosphere."
Wayne Gretzky, special adviser, Team Canada: "First of all, I remember feeling that going into the gold-medal game, the two best teams in the tournament were going to meet. That was in the back of my mind. I also remember that day before the game just how nervous I was eight years earlier [as Team Canada general manager in Salt Lake City], when we played in the gold-medal game. I just remember all the excitement and nerves and what everyone was going through. But really, quite honestly, that day in Vancouver, I had a great sense of belief and relief going into the game that Canada was going to win the gold medal."
Mike Babcock, head coach, Team Canada: "Just remember the opportunity at hand: being Canadian and having an opportunity to win Olympic gold at home. To share that with your family, to share that with Vancouver, to share that with Canada, those were my thoughts.
"I just remember it was a dream of mine one day there would be a party in every little house and farmhouse and little community and town across Canada if we were able to get it done.
"I thought we were calm and composed. We went through the structure of how we were going to play and have success. We were very businesslike. We had very good leadership in our room in [Chris] Pronger and Niedermayer, some guys that had been around a long time. And I thought that really helped us."
Ken Hitchcock, assistant coach, Team Canada: "I've never been in a competition where I felt more prepared. I felt like the team was more prepared, more relaxed and more ready to play than any team in that game. I really felt comfortable where the team was at; I really felt comfortable where the prep was at. ... I felt like there was no question in my mind we were going to win the hockey game. I wasn't nervous; I wasn't, 'Oh, my God, what's going to happen?' I would be in a different frame of mind now, if the result had changed. I just felt like, from the time I got up to the time I went to the rink, to the time we prepared, to the time we were ready to play, we were going to win the hockey game because No. 1, we were playing so well. No. 2, we were pretty healthy. No. 3, I felt like we played great against the Americans in the first game and lost. So, I didn't have any doubt we were going to win. ... Most of the speeches we made were, 'Hey, we're doing this really well, let's just keep going. This is what's really going well -- keep going.' There were very few adjustments we made, we thought, 'Man, we're really on top of our game here.'"
Rick Nash: "We played our system the whole way through and we lost in the round-robin to the U.S., so we had a lot of time to work out our kinks and we knew what they were going to do, so it was just follow the system, play hard and play for your country."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "I'd be lying if I didn't say the legs didn't feel a bit different. I remember the first game of the tournament, your eyes start wandering. This is really happening; we're really here. Gold-medal game, it was some of the same. You had a little bit of that in the warmup, but it goes away as soon as you're warming up. Maybe the first couple of shots, your hands don't feel the same.
"If I remember correctly, I remember the talk about how proud we should be about being at this point and that we'd earned everything we'd gotten and those types of things.
"We knew where we were. We knew there'd be 100 people cheering for us and the rest cheering for them. We knew what kind of atmosphere it was going to be."
Ken Hitchcock: "Mike did most of the talking. The points were really simple. We really built on the way we played in the second half. We thought we played great in Game 1, the second half. We felt really, really good. We just felt like, 'Man, we're playing really well. Let's just keep going.' Our team was really close, really tight together. There was great chemistry, great cohesion. Just, it felt like a bunch of guys you didn't ever want to let go of the rope. That was the way it felt. You didn't ever want to go home. You didn't want it to break up. You just felt like you were going to win forever."
Roberto Luongo: "It was really intense. Obviously, when countries compete against each other, there's a bit more emotion involved than a regular game."
Ryan Whitney: "Jamie Langenbrunner was real good. Guys just looked up to him and Chris Drury. They were guys who had been there and have done everything you can do in hockey. They would say what we have to do. I was there cracking jokes and laughing a little bit, keeping it a little loose. I remember [coach] Ron Wilson was great at not putting pressure on the guys, reminding them this was an amazing opportunity and a day none of us would ever forget. There wasn't much hockey talk before. There was really no more X's and O's you could go over.
"I tell everyone, because I'm not afraid to remind my buddies I played in the Olympics, I tell them the two things I'll never forget there was how silent it was when we beat them in the round-robin. Remember when [Ryan] Kesler scored the best empty-netter of all time? It was dead silent there.
"The other thing was before that [gold-medal] game. It was bonkers."
David Backes: "That locker room was very businesslike. Not a lot of voices in there. I might have been one of the louder voices. Just, 'Hey, you know what? We've been doing it all tournament, we don't have to change much. We beat this team already, let's go out there and do it.' We knew the stage, the viewership, what it meant for us."
Zach Parise: "You couldn't see them, but they were loud. I do remember that. Because we did 20-minute warmups, and I think in the NHL we did 16 minutes. And Canada wanted to keep it more like an NHL game. So we had the ice to ourselves for a little bit and then they came on and the buzz in the building was awesome. The atmosphere in the building was incredible.
"You still had the butterflies through the game. It was one of those rare games that you, just for the first little bit, you don't want to make a mistake. I guess it's like playing a Game 7. I think as you kind of get your feet under you, you're a little bit more comfortable and you just play and your instincts take over."
Brooks Orpik: "I remember it because every other game besides that one we had a ton of support at all the games, but in that one it was pretty red in the crowd there. I think it was in the upper deck they stuck all the Americans. I say all, there weren't many.
"I think it kind of worked in our favor, too. I didn't envy the Canadians' position at all. I mean, everyone's like, 'Oh, yeah, it was a home game,' but they were expected to win, there was so much pressure on them to win. We had such a young group, too, with no Olympic experience, and I think that took a lot of pressure off us."
Ryan Miller: "I took in a bit of it. I like to be aware of my surroundings. I didn't want to have too much tunnel vision going on. My job is to be aware of what's going on around me. So I took in a little bit of it. I just tried to make it into another hockey game."
Ryan Getzlaf, Team Canada: "Part of being able to play at that elite level is going out there and embracing the moment and not getting too wound up. I think that you have to consciously think about calming down and playing the game the right way.
"I remember sitting down after the first shift, getting back to the bench and just sitting down and kind of taking a deep breath and saying, 'We got that one out of the way' kind of thing, and we can go on with the game."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "That first shift was tough. You were a little caught up."
Duncan Keith: "After the first couple shifts, as a team we were prepared, we were focused. As much as we were nervous, there was still that something inside of us that said to ourselves, we weren't going to be denied on our home soil, we were going to find a way, no matter what. As nervous as we were, it turned into that attitude that we weren't going to be denied."
CANADA TAKES A 2-0 LEAD
After tense, back-and-forth action, at 12:50 of the first period, Jonathan Toews scored to give Team Canada the early lead and further stoke the fired-up crowd. Then, at 7:13 of the second period, Corey Perry fired one past Ryan Miller to make it 2-0 and it looked as though the Canadians were in charge.
Corey Perry: "It was huge. It definitely helps that it went in, but I think we were halfway through the game. There was still another half a game to play. Anything can happen.
"To score the second goal, it was special. It was a great play. I just had to make the quick shot on Miller because it was a cross-ice pass and it just found a way to get in."
Ryan Getzlaf: "At that point, you're just playing. We're playing every minute, every shift because they're doing the same thing. So it's not something that we're going to be able to relax at any moment when you're in a game like that. So, I don't ever remember feeling safe, no."
Sidney Crosby: "I think we were really comfortable. We were getting really good chances. Miller was making some good saves. We felt we had control of the game."
Ryan Miller: "I was definitely disappointed to get down. But at the same time was thinking about trying to keep everything in striking distance. Two goals isn't insurmountable ... just wanted to settle things down."
Mike Babcock: "Get the third goal. Just get the third one."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "Through the whole tournament, there was always this feeling that this was going to happen for us, that this was our time. Down 2-0, whatever it was, we never thought about [losing].
"Even against Finland, when we were up 5-0, you still don't feel comfortable. You never allowed yourself to feel comfortable.
"To me, it's one of those tournaments you have to be pumped up at every moment until that final buzzer because the teams you're playing are that good.
"I just remember thinking, 'Now we're going to have to find a way to get three on them.' It never occurred to me that it meant we were done."
Zach Parise: "It's always easy to say when a team has a great comeback that, 'Oh, we never felt we were out of it.' But, of course, it was frustrating. It was frustrating because they were doing a good job against us. We never really changed the way we played. We just kept doing what had worked for us. Eventually, we kind of chipped away and started to break them down a little bit.
"I think it's human nature in hockey, especially in a big game, I really thought that they started to be really passive. All of a sudden we were able to skate the puck in, we were able to skate the puck through the neutral zone, things we'd had trouble doing earlier in the game. All of a sudden they were backing off. I remember us saying to each other on the bench that they're backing off a little, just keep going. It's like in football, when a team goes to a prevent defense and the other team just seems to be able to move the ball down the field. That's kind of how we felt on the bench.
"You keep looking up at the clock and it's one of those things when you're down, the clock seems like it's flying and when you're winning, it seems like it's going too slow."
Ryan Whitney: "I can honestly say it was insane, how good a team Canada had, that at 2-0, just how little panic there was on our bench. That was the Perry goal. I figured that, and understandably so because I messed up on that Perry goal, I wouldn't be out there again. ... Bobby Ryan wasn't playing that much, either, we were on the bench joking around and keeping guys loose. I remember going out. I would go out on TV timeouts and do a couple tight turns in front of the bench and say, 'I'm ready, boys.'
"Guys weren't panicking. It was [experience from] beating them once. There were a couple factors. We beat them once, we had at that time the best goalie in history in that two weeks playing for us. They're not going to score again, you're thinking. We had such willpower and chemistry on that team. That was a really close team, for a two-week tournament it was pretty crazy how well guys got along and how much guys cared."
Duncan Keith: "We had a lot of respect for them. The game's not over; we still had lots of time left to play. We were happy we were up 2-0 but there was never any let-up or taking a breath because we were up."
Patrick Kane: "I think at that point you're down 2-0, so you have to press a little bit and try and score. But I remember being in the second period, we had some chances. It seemed like every time we had chances, especially when it was 2-0, shifts kind of kept building, and our team kept getting better and better. ... I think going to the third, we felt pretty confident that we could probably get one more and come back."
TEAM USA TIES IT
Refusing to back down, the upstart Americans rallied 5:31 after Perry's goal on a deflection by Ryan Kesler to make it 2-1. And then, in storybook fashion, with Ryan Miller on the bench in favor of the extra attacker and the Americans doing everything they could to score, Zach Parise tied the game with just 24.4 seconds left in the third period.
Zach Parise: "There must have been about five minutes left [in regulation], and we'd dump it in and they'd dump it out. I think, finally, Luongo misplayed a long shot and we were able to keep the puck in the zone."
Ron Wilson, head coach, Team USA: "We had used our timeout, I don't know what it was, with a little bit more than a minute to go in the game. I had it in my mind I had to get Joe Pavelski on the ice at some point because Joe is one of those junkyard dogs, he makes things happen. He doesn't look pretty doing it. It's really hard to sell other people around you that he's a really good hockey player when they don't see him every night. The first timeout, when we pulled the goalie, Millsy's on the bench, I didn't put Pav on the ice."
David Backes: "I don't know if I touched the ice a lot in that third period. It was just Ryan Callahan and Tim Thomas at the end of the bench. Great seats for the end of that game. Trying to do whatever we could. Calling out plays to guys. Letting them know what was open. Opening doors. Things like that. You're thinking, minute left, hopefully we can find something."
Duncan Keith: "I was on the bench. I remember looking at the clock, there was about 52 seconds left. There was a whistle. I remember looking out, thinking, 'Geez, if we can only get through this last 52 seconds here, we'll have a gold medal.'"
Ryan Getzlaf: "I was on the ice and I'd taken two faceoffs in a row in our zone at the end of the game. The first one, we got out of the zone and the second one, it stayed in."
Ron Wilson: "There were about 35 seconds left and [Babcock] wanted to have Pronger and Niedermayer on the ice the whole last two minutes. So Mike called the timeout and it gave me the opportunity to pull one of the guys off and put Pav on. We drew up a play, and then who does the puck end up going to below the goal line but Joe Pavelski? And Joe makes the play out to Patrick Kane ... "
Patrick Kane: "I remember, I think, Dustin Brown took a shot, Luongo kind of had a chance to cover it, but it kind of went out of his glove and went back around. The play kind of ended up in front of the net, and I kind of spun and shot it. I knew it had a chance when I saw Parise sitting there and the puck laying there and he poked it through."
Ryan Getzlaf: "I remember the play. Them having the puck behind the net; it was along the goal line. I was contemplating whether to challenge the guy behind the net or staying home and I think I chose to stay, and somehow he got the puck past me and hit Zach going to the net there. He made a good play."
Zach Parise: "I just do remember watching the puck hit off Jamie's skate and that really threw Luongo off and you find yourself in front of the net with the puck right on your stick. I remember the sound of the puck hitting the back pad in the goal.
"You're so excited. It was new life. All of a sudden, we had new life. Just to be in that situation, to get ourselves in that situation, was unbelievable."
Patrick Kane: "Ah, it was a good feeling. At that point, you're feeling pretty amazed you tied it up. And then you're thinking just get it to overtime, and you'll probably have a good chance to win it because we did have all the momentum."
Jonathan Toews: "I can't describe a worse feeling, a more sinking feeling than giving up that 2-1 lead with whatever was left on the clock; it wasn't much. I don't think we ever felt comfortable with a 2-0, 2-1 lead at any point. You just feel like you want to run the clock down."
Ryan Callahan: "I was on the bench. ... I remember me and Bobby Ryan jumping up and down together. I think my helmet almost ended up at center ice, we were cheering so much. It's just an incredible feeling when you see that puck go in and you know that maybe you're just one goal away from winning the gold."
Sidney Crosby: "Pretty gross. Pretty gross. Pretty quiet. The best thing that happened is that they scored with that amount of time left. If they would have scored with like five minutes left, who knows? You don't know. You don't know because they have momentum then and they're kind of going after it. The fact that it was so late, we were able to basically get right in the room after and just turn the page and regroup."
Ryan Miller: "Honestly, the guys were standing up and I was sitting down. I tried not to react either way. I always feel like when I'm in that situation, my job isn't going to change whether we score or not. I try to keep it pretty even. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty happy he scored. But I tried to keep myself composed and ready."
Mike Babcock: "I thought our team played good down the stretch. We had three 6-on-5 faceoffs in our own zone and Getzlaf won every one, if I'm not mistaken. When it's 6-on-5, the puck always goes in backdoor, and sure enough it was there backdoor for them. But I remember looking up at the scoreboard and saying, 'Good, there's only 27 seconds left' or whatever there was. Because you were going to have time to go back to the dressing room and regroup. If the game keeps going there, you may not have regrouped."
Ryan Getzlaf: "At that point, it was a huge letdown knowing that we had it in our grasp and we had that game and let it slip away. Obviously, now it's kind of irrelevant in the long term, but it still means the same to me that I was on the ice and wasn't able to close it out the way we wanted to.
"I play that over and over in my mind on how they scored and what we could have done differently. It's kind of a weird thing considering that we won, but I do try and figure out all the time what we could have done differently to prevent that."
Ryan Whitney: "When Zach scored, that was the one time in my life, I remember legit blacking out. Jumping up and down, screaming and hugging guys. I went to hug [John] Tortorella, he was going crazy. When [Parise] scored, I'll never forget it. I remember saying, we're winning now. I was wrong.
"When he banged it in, I was at the end of the bench, I just started screaming, jumping around. Not a clue what you're doing. It was total blackout."
Ron Wilson: "Because it was just the tying goal, we [were really] celebrating on the bench. Because you're that close to your dreams: winning a gold medal, and on top of it winning it in Canada. So our guys had gone nuts. And had I had any common sense at all, I would have said, 'Calm down, the game's not over.' Or, 'Let's go out and win it before we get to overtime. We've still got 25 seconds, they're going to be so disappointed, we might be able to jump on them.'"
David Backes: "He buries that puck and you're like, 'This was meant to be.' We have all the momentum now, whether it's the end of the period of overtime, let's stay at it. It was meant to be."
Brenden Morrow: "I just remember when they scored late in the third, the timing was probably great for us because they were really pouring it on the last five minutes or so. We needed that breather to adjust and refresh. Had they started overtime right away, our mindset might not have been in the same place. You get in, you relax, you start to talk it out. It was good to have that little break for us."
Roberto Luongo: "It was very deflating. We were lucky that we were able to go to the locker room after that and regather our thoughts and come out for OT. If we had to go straight into OT without taking a break, I don't know if we would have been in the same mindset. It was a good thing we were able to go back in the locker room and just reset our mindset and get ready for OT."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "I remember thinking if we had scored a minute earlier, we would have won this game in regulation.
"We kind of had that feeling that if we just pushed and pushed them, we were going to get a break. That was the feeling I remember having is, 'We have them, we have them.'
"I was excited when it did happen. I don't know if I saw it go in. I was trying to screen the goalie. I just remember Zach's arms going up and chasing him into the corner."
Scott Niedermayer: "I think we felt we were playing well and if we sort of kept up with those things, that there was somebody in that room that was going to find a way to do it. It was a pretty good pit in my stomach, I mean I was on the ice, probably chased out of position to try and get the puck and [Parise] was left alone. But a pit in your stomach for a little while. But again we kept together and didn't let that stop anything that we believed."
Rick Nash: "Yeah, it was a sick feeling in your stomach. You're 26, 27 seconds or whatever it was away from a gold medal, and they tie it up. But I can say I've never been with a more confident group in the dressing room in between periods. We felt that we played great during the game, played well and there were so many captains in there, so many leaders, that just the wave of confidence coming through that room, like we knew we were going to get the gold medal."
Corey Perry: "Your emotions go up and come screaming to a halt and come down. I think we went into the intermission, nothing had to be said. There were so many great leaders in that room that just knew what was at stake. We had the feeling that if we went out and played the way we wanted to play, we were going to win."
Bill McCreary: "What a momentum shift you could feel in the game. As an official seeing it as you do on the ice, the U.S. were starting to take over the game. When [Parise] scores, you could just feel it, just see it and feel it going to the U.S. side."
Paul Stastny: "I was on the bench. I don't even know how much time we had left. It looked like there was 20 guys on the ice. Once that went in, the building got so quiet. The bench was so loud, so excited. We all thought we had it in the bag. You score that late, you have all the momentum."
Mike Eruzione, Team USA, 1980: "One of the local television stations showed up to film. It was really fun watching the kids watch the game. When Zach scored, these kids flipped. And I thought, 'Wow, that must have been what it was like when we played, people watching us.' It was very cool to watch that."
Gary Bettman: "It was like the crowd was almost mesmerized when the U.S. tied up the game."
IN THE LOCKER ROOMS BEFORE OVERTIME
The teams skated to their respective dressing rooms to prepare for sudden-death overtime, which was to be in the NHL format of 4-on-4. As the ice was resurfaced, the players and coaches tried, in some cases desperately, to maintain their focus.
Sidney Crosby: "Obviously, the first minute it's just kind of like, guys are just taking it in. But right away it was just like everyone just kind of snapped out of it. It was pretty energetic. Five, seven minutes before we went back out, it just felt like, 'OK, we're definitely in the right mindset here.' I think the fact that you had guys like Niedermayer and Pronger, I remember Scott Niedermayer just saying little things. It was just like, 'We've got to regroup here and we know what we've got to do, let's make sure we get back after it.'
"I remember Mike Babcock had a really good speech. He said, 'You know as bad as it seems right now, we just made this even better, possibly, so somebody's got a real opportunity here to make it really special.' I kind of remember looking around, everyone just seemed to have a good mindset going into overtime. It really showed."
Ryan Miller: "The guys were obviously enthusiastic, but the guys were also trying to get their focus back. It wasn't a celebration by any means. We were excited to get the opportunity. Maybe Whitney and, I can't remember, but someone else mentioned, 'Who's going to be the next Eruzione?' Or something to that effect. The boys got the message."
Patrick Kane: "I remember I was sitting next to Erik Johnson. We were kind of looking at each other, saying, 'We have a chance to win gold here.' It was pretty crazy. Everyone was excited. I think maybe to the point where we were too excited because it almost felt after all that happened and we came back from 2-0, tied it up in the late stages like that, it was almost a guarantee we were going to win it."
Jonathan Toews: "It was such a weird feeling in your throat and your stomach; that everything just dropped. Trying to forget about that and trying to forget about what you could have had if you would have killed off the last minute or whatever, it's hard, but you got to forget about it and move on."
Brooks Orpik: "I think the whole game we were pretty confident. Obviously, when you get to the last couple of minutes, when you're still down a goal against a team like that, I think you're definitely nervous that it's not going to go your way. I think when Zach scored that goal to tie it up and then going into overtime the way that we tied it up late there, I remember the mood in the dressing room; I don't think anybody thought we were going to lose after the way that ended in regulation.
"So, I thought the attitude, the confidence in the room, was really good going into overtime."
Brenden Morrow: "You're pissed off, initially. The first couple minutes, you're upset with how things went, what could have been. But then you look at the opportunity. If somebody had told us, 'You've got an overtime to win a gold medal at the beginning of the tournament,' who wouldn't have taken that? After you have that initial five minutes or so to reflect, we were thinking the same thing the Americans were. We were confident."
Mike Babcock: "It was great because the room calmed down right away. [Coaches] could tell because we were close enough to hear it. As a coaching staff we went through our structure, 4-on-4 and who was going to play. I went through it then with the players, our structure and how we were going to play. That took about a minute. Then I said to them, 'There's too much talent on the ice, this game is going to be over fast. One of you is going to be a hero for the rest of your life. Let's put our foot on the gas and let's go get 'em.'"
Ron Wilson: "We go to overtime -- we as a coaching staff. We didn't even know what we were facing. We started asking around: 'What are we doing?' We hadn't really investigated what happens. Then we're told, 'You've got a 20-minute overtime.' We're like, '20-minute overtime?' 'Yeah, they switch ends,' which you don't do in the NHL. 'You go in, they're doing the ice, you get a 20-minute overtime, sudden death, but you're playing 4-on-4.' So I was like, 'That doesn't really work to our advantage because Canada is very deep.' I knew if we get to a shootout, I thought we're going to win. We've got the three best shootout guys and you can use them over and over again, so we had Patrick Kane, we had Joe Pavelski and we had Zach Parise.
"We hadn't even been in any 4-on-4 situations in the whole tournament. Canada had already played Switzerland in an overtime, so they had at least an inkling of what to do. We had to take a couple of minutes ourselves to regroup as coaches, and then we had to go in and tell them how we wanted to play 4-on-4. We hadn't even practiced it."
Ken Hitchcock: "One shot and we win a gold medal. One shot and we're going to live together forever. Keep playing the same way we're playing. Don't change a thing. That's exactly what everyone said."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "We were trying to confirm what the overtime rules were because the gold-medal game was different than the other games.
"It was a lot of talk about this is our time. Talk about how tight they would be right now and how we've got an opportunity to jump on them."
Scott Niedermayer: "I don't think I've ever given a speech of any kind, [but said something to the effect]: 'Just keep doing what we're doing. We'll get rewarded. Just believe and I feel it's in here.' Just those things. And I think everybody did believe, or maybe not everybody, but the majority of the group. Enough that that was the team's attitude and somehow it did work out."
Ryan Getzlaf: "You know what? It was a weird feeling because we still didn't have any sense of panic in our locker room whatsoever. When you're playing at that level and you look around that locker room, there's really no reason for anybody to have panic with the experience and stuff that we had in that room. I remember going in, calming down a little bit, getting the emotions back in check and getting ready to play again."
Zach Parise: "I was still on a high from scoring the goal. But at the same time, you have that feeling you want to go get that next one, too. That kind of game, it doesn't matter if you don't get the next one.
"We're trying to quickly learn a few things, how we're going to play 4-on-4. With all the skill level Canada had, that 4-on-4 kind of played to their advantage. And at the start, you kind of get back those feelings you had in the first period: You really need one shift to get into it."
Drew Doughty, Team Canada: "It's insane. You don't want to be the guy who's going to mess up. At the same time, you so badly want to be the guy who wins the game for your country. A crazy feeling. I'm not going to lie. It's probably the most nervous I ever was, in overtime of the gold-medal game. I've had other times during our Stanley Cup run where I could have been nervous, but I definitely think when I was on the ice, the most nervous time was that overtime period, knowing it was in Canada and we were supposed to win the gold medal."
Bill McCreary: "We figured it would be a really fast OT. At that stage, you just hope for what we call a clean goal. Not a goal where a guy is hooked off the puck or a trip of any type of foul that creates a turnover that leads to the goal. That certainly didn't happen.
"It ends on a good note when there isn't something that leads up to the goal that people could question later on."
Ryan Whitney: "Saying, 'We've got them -- they're all tightened up.' We kept saying, 'Let's make this whole country cry,' or something stupid like that. There were some funny things said."
David Backes: "I think we've got all the momentum. I think even after the break, we're in the room, going, 'Someone's got to be the hero. It just takes one shot.'"
Wayne Gretzky: "I don't think I really got nervous at all for them until the Americans tied it up late in the game. And when that happened, you know anything can happen in overtime."
The two teams, edgy with anticipation and adrenaline amid the deafening roar, skated onto the ice for the opening faceoff of sudden-death overtime. Soon, a hero would be made. The tense, early moments were alive with dramatic plays, including a golden opportunity by Team USA's Joe Pavelski.
Sidney Crosby: "You could tell right from the start of overtime we were skating, we weren't sitting back. I think that's the attitude you want in overtime."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "I felt we carried the play early on. We had some opportunities."
Ron Wilson: "Pavelski intercepted a Niedermayer pass and fired one that Luongo had no idea where the puck was, and the puck stuck right here, between his mask and his shoulder. He caught it like that. Only Pav does stuff like this: He anticipated where Niedermayer was passing the puck and suckered him and stuck his stick there and took a quick shot. We thought it was going in, then you're like, 'How did he stop that because [Luongo] hasn't been sharp all night?'"
Joe Pavelski: "I think about it a little bit once in a while, that's for sure. You always hope you get a chance in overtime and that you're ready for it. I was ready, I got the chance, but it didn't go in. I remember going back to the bench and Timmy Thomas just being like, 'That was close.'"
Ron Wilson: "And then a couple of minutes, about two minutes later, Phil Kessel hit the crossbar that nobody really realized because the puck hit the crossbar and went up into the netting. We saw it from the bench and we were like, 'Are you kidding me?'
"Phil hadn't done much in the Olympics, but he got one of those shots off like a really quick, really unbelievable release that only he can do and so he's literally one inch from himself scoring the golden goal."
Mike Babcock: "We turned the puck over early -- Niedermayer to Pavelski and he went high on Luongo. After that, we dominated. We had the puck for the rest of the time, I thought."
Sidney Crosby: "I don't remember Pavelski's chance. I just remember that last shift. They had a rush, it ended up coming back, I think Niedermayer passed it to me."
Scott Niedmermayer: "I don't know who I was trying to pass it to. I double-clutched on it, like I saw somebody, and then I saw their guy and I kind of did it halfway and then [Crosby] got it."
Zach Parise: "I was on the ice, and I remember Sid coming through and trying to split the D and the puck kind of rimmed around and hit the ref's foot, and I think that kind of threw Rafalski off a little bit and Sid read that."
Ron Wilson: "I still see the puck coming around the boards. I didn't see what happens because it's in this corner [near the team benches]. We had our two most reliable defensemen, Rafalski was out there and Ryan Suter. They were our go-to pair."
Sidney Crosby: "I tried to go through the D -- it kind of got broken up and just kind of a scramble in the corner."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "Unfortunately, I was on the ice up by my point. The puck came around the boards, however, that bounce came off there. I was covering the point, not sure who it was."
Drew Doughty: "I was on the ice. I was coming down the right point, coming in back door. If Sid shot it off the back pad, I'd try to get the rebound."
Scott Niedermayer: "I remember getting it behind the net again, regrouping, gave it to Sid. I guess at that point I remember, you know, this guy's going for it right now. You just get that feeling like he's going to be real aggressive with this puck and he's going on the attack, and he did that and I think he kind of lost it. Then it's into the corner. Four-on-4 -- I loved it because stuff happens and it doesn't take much to get an opening. The puck was in the corner rattling around, and I felt I was open at that point, so I was already making a few strides towards the net to be the hero."
Zach Parise: "Sid sent it to Iginla. I was playing high in the slot covering the point, so I was kind of helpless. I was too far away to try and disrupt Sid."
Ron Wilson: "The puck went around the wall and I see Brian Rafalski going. I said, 'OK, we're safe here because he's got it.' The next thing I know, Sid's in on a breakaway."
Mike Babcock: "When Sid got the puck, we were in a pretty good situation there."
Sidney Crosby: "I knew I had a good look. I think it was Rafalski was with me along the boards, and I knew that the other D was with Iggy in the corner. So as soon as I got off the boards, I knew that there was nobody in front. I just had to beat Rafalski off the boards, the way it kind of worked out I ended up on the net side and he ended up, I think, on the other side of me. ... I knew I was in a good position to get some momentum to go to the net and there wasn't anyone there. So, I think the big thing there is, do you shoot or do you take it?"
Ryan Miller: "There's a lot of times where he turns and shoots; there's other times where he knows he's got room and comes to the net. I thought this would be one of those times where he comes to the net."
Sidney Crosby: "I just thought, 'I've got to shoot it.' Because if I take it to the net and for some reason I either have the forward come down and hit the puck or if the goalie cuts the angle and I don't get a good shot off, then I'm going to be kicking myself for not. When you're in that spot in overtime, you've got to take the shot. It wasn't a hard, hard shot, but I got it away pretty quick. I don't think I even looked at the net. I knew where [Miller] was, but where I got the pass, I think I was right by the dot and I kind of knew the net was there and just tried to get it away quick."
Ryan Miller: "I wasn't going to give him a chance to use that great backhand he's got."
Ron Wilson: "I don't know what Ryan was thinking, starting to go with a poke-check on the puck and he's still 20 feet away. I didn't ever even want to ask Ryan, 'What were you thinking? If you go down in your butterfly, you've smothered it.'"
Sidney Crosby: "The goalie goes down and basically, just the light coming on. I don't know if it's stuck in his pads or ... Right at that split second, it's not like you see it the whole way going in the corner. You lose sight of it, then the light came on and you see everyone."
Ryan Miller: "Mistake on my part. It sucks."
Scott Niedermayer: "I think he was a little surprised, he shot it pretty quick. It wasn't a real, real good scoring chance. ... To be honest, I don't even think I saw him shoot it, and I just saw it hit the pad in the back of the net. It wasn't even that hard or top corner or anything. Just kind of 'thud,' right in the back."
Ron Wilson: "I asked Brian, I was like, what happened in the corner where we couldn't see? And he says, 'Well, I was going to the puck and I looked up, like, Where's Iginla? Where's Crosby? Where are they? So I watched the puck almost 'til it got to the back of the net. I know where it's going, so I'm going to the hash mark. So I look this way, look that way and there's no puck there.' The puck had hit Billy McCreary's feet. And [Rafalski] said, 'It's in the net.' And I'm going, 'It hit Billy McCreary's feet.' Billy didn't even know because we came back, I had him about a week later. I said, 'Billy, if they shoot the puck around the wall on a dump-in, try and jump in the air. I know it's getting harder, you're getting a little older.' He could be caustic and then between the first and second he came over and he said, 'I had no idea you were busting my [chops]. Someone told me in between periods that the puck hit my feet in the gold-medal game.'
"The puck never even got to Brian, and it was in our net. In a sneeze, it was in our net. And we had the two better scoring chances, too."
Bill McCreary: "I think at the end, the feeling is you want to be satisfied with your own work. You watch the medals being handed out and it's a good feeling to realize you were not part of anyone losing or not part of anyone winning. It was a great experience."
Drew Doughty: "I saw it [go in] right away. Me and Niedermayer were both down pretty low actually, and we were the only two defensemen on the ice. We tried to be the first guys to get to Sid."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "Unfortunately, I had a pretty good angle of watching it go in."
Mike Babcock: "I don't know how everybody else thinks, but in my heart and in my mind, I always believed we were going to get it done. That's just the way I operate."
Zach Parise: "It's just, you're devastated right away. Because that just shattered everything. You're going from being on such a high, having a chance to win the game and all of a sudden you watch it go in and just, like, that it's over. Everything we did, the whole two weeks, it's over.
"That's what it was -- disbelief that it just ended just like that. What seemed to be like a nothing play turned out to be it's over, the Olympics are over."
Jarome Iginla, Team Canada: "I felt like a little kid, throwing your gloves in the air. It was a one-goal-takes-all and it went the right way, in my opinion. It was very special and it was one of those memories that will be with me for a long time. There was a lot on the line, as far as one goal and it could've gone either way. That was the old saying, 'The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.' Fortunately, it went the right way -- and it was a pretty cool feeling."
Roberto Luongo: "Joy. Relief. I just remember putting my arms in the air and just gliding all the way down. I wasn't even skating fast, I was just looking at the heavens and thanking God the whole way that we were able to pull that off."
Corey Perry: "I was sitting at the end of the bench. I think I was sitting right beside Morrow. We hadn't played at all. We were sitting there and watching the whole thing unfold and as soon as it went in, I jumped over the boards."
Brenden Morrow: "Exhilaration. It was almost more relief than anything. Scared to show your face anywhere in Canada had we not won that. It was a huge relief. I remember the bench pouring, everyone jumping. And then all the flag skating and all that mayhem happened and you just spend the night celebrating."
Ryan Callahan: "You're still going home with a silver medal, but it's devastating. You're that close to completing your goal and ultimately winning a gold medal. To have that taken away from you that quick, it's hard to take."
Phil Kessel, Team USA: "That's just how it happens, right? You get some chances, if one goes in, you're done."
Ryan Getzlaf: "I was on the bench. I didn't actually see it. I was talking to one of the coaches at the time. ... It wasn't a 2-on-1 down the ice or anything like that, where you could get prepared for it. Just kind of, bang. It happened and away we went.
"When it did go in it was just kind of a shock and then everything's a blur. You don't really think about things from that point. Just jump over the boards quick and get to the pile."
Ryan Whitney: "Everyone probably thought we were going to win. I know I did. Unfortunately, that's what happens. That was no one's fault. It was a quick play, get it to Sid and that was that. That's how quickly things can turn and change. I would have bet anything we were going to win."
Ken Holland, management, Team Canada: "We were jumping around up in the press box -- Stevie [Yzerman], Army, Kevin Lowe, Hitch and I -- just incredible emotions. Then you go down to the room and you see the prime minister of Canada."
Gary Bettman: "[Y]ou could just feel almost an emotional explosion not just in Vancouver or in British Columbia but all across Canada when Sid scored the goal."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "The disappointment is the first thing, the shock. We truly thought we were going to win.
"In the locker room, before overtime, we were all talking about who was going to be the hero and stuff like that, not anything else. So I think it was shock, watching the celebration. All of us had friends or whatever on the other side, so that was hard to watch.
"We went back to the locker room. A lot of us stayed there for a long time. I remember thanking [GM] Brian Burke for the opportunity. We just sat there and talked. Later on that night, you start to think, 'We did a lot of good things.'"
Ryan Whitney: "Right away, I remember being shocked.
"It was more, disbelief. Right away, you're like 'Oh, my God. It's over, that's it. It's got to still be going.' Then there was probably like 25-30 minutes of being pretty upset. Sad, in a way. And then Brian Burke came down and talked to us. Ron Wilson talked to us. I don't care if this sounds bad -- two, three hours later, I was so proud we had the silver medal. There was still parts of me that were crushed, but looking back, you won a silver medal, it's a pretty amazing accomplishment. We were so close."
Brooks Orpik: "Even to the day, the thing that I always laugh about with people is it's funny, if you watch every other sport, people who win silver medals are overcome with joy and you see the 23 of us, everyone's heartbroken and can't believe they're getting a silver medal around their neck. You're almost disgusted to get a silver medal, so I think it took us a little bit longer to have that register and appreciate what we'd accomplished.
"Right from day one, everyone was picking us to finish like sixth and seventh and eighth, and I think Brian Burke, he's the one that realistically just pounded it into our heads that it was a realistic goal -- winning a gold medal.
"Just like when the regular season ends here, if you don't win the Cup, obviously you're so disappointed, but take a step back like a month or two after in the summer and then you kind of appreciate some of the things you accomplished. I think it was the same deal there."
David Backes: "The end is the end. You think of all the opportunities during that game -- that was not one you'd pick to win a gold medal for them. But that's history."
Ken Hitchcock: "There's mostly, 'What do you do?' You're up in the booth. First time for me. What do you do? You're in there and the team is going crazy on the ice and you're in an elevator, stuck with a bunch of other crazies going crazy in the elevator. You're trying to go floor to floor down, which is almost impossible, to get on to the bench to get on to the ice. It took forever. It was 20 minutes before we got to the bench."
Patrice Bergeron, Team Canada: "When Sid scored that goal, everything happened so fast. We had the medal ceremony right away; it was just a great feeling. You're back to feeling like a little kid, just lots of emotions going through your body."
Zach Parise: "They just walk by and give them to you. Call your name. It's kind of the hockey-player mentality. It's first place or you don't care. For us, we were just devastated to get the silver medal. As the time goes on, you appreciate it more. At the time, you don't even want the thing, you're so disappointed that we lost the game."
Rick Nash: "I kept it around my neck the whole night. No, not the whole night, not when I went to bed."
Mike Babcock: "And as much as everyone talks about Sid's goal, that's not what I'm going to remember the most. What I remember is standing there with our guys singing the national anthem and sharing it all with a great, hockey-hungry nation. What an opportunity. I had a picture of the world junior team [which Babcock coached] doing the same thing, standing there singing the national anthem in '97. Now I have a picture of the Olympic team doing the same thing. That was my vision, or my goal, the picture I had in my mind. When it came through, it was something for the ages, I believe."
Bill McCreary: "After the game in our dressing room, Rene Fasel [head of the IIHF] dropped by and shared a beverage with us. He said he wanted to thank us for the officiating throughout the entire tournament. He said he didn't have one complaint from one team in the entire tournament. That's pretty rewarding, when the guy in charge tells you that. He was really, really pleased.
"It was a tremendous moment to share. Share with your teammates: the three fellows who worked with you."
Patrick Kane: "I guess it was tough the way it ended, but looking back on it now, it was great for hockey, great for the game, great for the growth of the game. I can remember standing in line there to get my medal and kind of looking around. Our team was pretty quiet. We were just looking up in the crowd. You see grown men hugging each other, crying. The crowd was going crazy. It was almost to that point like, 'Oh, this is pretty cool, too.'"
Paul Stastny: "Afterwards, you're just in the locker room. Guys are disappointed. You get silver, but you lose gold. We were proud of each other, but at the same time we knew we were capable of winning it."
Ryan Whitney: "A little upset. Part of it is you have to see all those guys so happy. The crowd was going bananas, that makes it a little tougher. I just remember wanting to get off the ice. You're standing there for a decent amount of time. They're celebrating ... it takes forever."
Claude Julien, assistant coach, Team Canada, 2014: "I was watching the game like everyone else for that final. I thought the U.S. did a great job and surprised a lot of people because they didn't figure they'd get that far and to bring Canada to overtime. I was sitting on the edge of my seat and I was elated when Crosby scored the winning goal because it means a lot to us."
Dan Bylsma, head coach, Team USA, 2014: "I was sitting on a chair in the corner of Primanti Brothers [in Pittsburgh], just watching the game unfold. When the puck went into the corner and it squirted out there to the dot, I stood up. Got up and ... I was disappointed. Upset. And I almost immediately said that if this is the way, if they're going to win the game, then I'm glad it was 87. I meant it -- and I'm not sure I meant it. I was disappointed for USA. I was disappointed for USA Hockey. I was disappointed as an American.
"I don't want to say it was solace that it was Sidney Crosby. But I was genuinely happy for Sid, too."
Wayne Gretzky: "But, as always, the best player came through and scored a big goal."
Gary Bettman: "I just remember it took a very long time to get back to the hotel."
Mike Eruzione: "At the end, it reminded me of years ago when the ball went through [Bill] Buckner's legs. We were all at a party, Red Sox fans, watching the game. And when the Red Sox lost, we all went home and later we couldn't remember who had stayed to help clean up from the party or anything. This was the same. The kids got up, picked up their jackets and walked out of the house. The television people were still there. It was, 'I can't believe we just lost.'"
Afterward, in a city and country alive with celebration, the participants went through a range of emotions and experiences: happy chaos, elation, sorrow, regrets. It's a game that, even now, almost four years later, still rings in the minds and hearts of the participants.
Gary Bettman: "Because we were in Canada and because Canada was in the gold-medal game, you felt like you were in the center of the universe."
Scott Niedermayer: "[T]he one nice thing, which really stood out for me as well after both of the Olympics, is that the dressing room is not packed. No one's allowed in there, so that's a nice moment where you're just able to sit with the guys. I don't know how long guys stayed in their gear, but you know just sitting, having a good time, music's on. Things are flowing. That's a good memory, even if it's a short one, it's good."
Ryan Whitney: "I remember Burkie saying, 'Don't hold your head for one second. You should be so proud of yourself. USA Hockey is so proud of this team.' Everything you can hear from a GM or coach, being proud of the team and being happy with how guys played."
Brenden Morrow: "Everyone kind of scattered. We just went with a few other couples to an Italian restaurant, il Giardino.
"The national anthem was sang for us. I'm pretty sure [drinks were] taken care for us, too, whether it was a bottle of wine, shots or something. It didn't take long until the restaurant figured out who we were, what had happened. It was pretty neat."
Ken Holland: "Eventually, we went out for dinner with the management team and coaches; people in the restaurant were cheering when they saw us. It was certainly surreal. It was a magical day. It's a day that can never be replicated for a whole lot of reasons. For all of us being in Canada, but for me personally being from British Columbia, playing the United States, going to overtime, Sidney Crosby scoring, it was a magical, magical two weeks capped off by a game that for Canada was a memory of a lifetime."
Ryan Whitney: "The whole team got together, I believe it was in a hotel lobby. This small kind of bar and the whole team was there and the coaches. Guys had some beers and some laughs. I don't even think guys talked about what could have been. More just funny stories from the past two weeks."
Ken Hitchcock: "We're jumping in some cab at 4 a.m. and the streets are packed. People are going crazy. And you're going home. It was a really strange feeling, it was like, I think, none of us wanted to leave Molson House, where everybody was. When you left, it was like, 'Holy smokes, we're going back to work. We're doing whatever.' And the fans, they're celebrating. It's a strange feeling."
Scott Niedermayer: "That is a strange part of the whole experience, no doubt. You fly over there, bang, new teammates, new jerseys and away you go. And then it's probably even more strange if you're in that final game. We had a few guys charter out that night and, gone, that's the end. Obviously, if you're together after a Stanley Cup final, you have all summer to soak it up and enjoy it. It would be nice to have a little more time to do that, but that's just not the nature of the beast."
Brooks Orpik: "[A]ctually rode back on the charter flight that Consol Energy provided. So it was me and my wife and Sid, the three of us together the day after. It could have been a very awkward situation. I mean, people who don't know Sid might have thought it was really awkward. It wasn't at all. There were people from Consol Energy who were harassing him to take the gold medal out. He was overly reluctant to take it out in front of me, so I kind of had to give him the OK to do it. He's always really careful about stuff like that.
"What could have been really awkward from the plane ride to the locker room here, it wasn't awkward at all. I think the fact we're really good friends and respect each other. As disappointed as I was that we lost, I think I was really happy for his individual success and team success."
Jamie Langenbrunner: "You come back and you realize how many people were watching, your friends, the stories they told you about it. It puts a little bit of a smile on your face that so many people got into it. And you think, 'What if I'd done that? Could we have scored here? Would we have done that?' I think you do that in any big game or situation, you replay the what-ifs."
Ron Wilson: "You win a bronze and you lose the silver. It makes no sense, but that's the way it is. Takes a little bit of distance. Most of my friends who don't know anything about hockey, when you come back, they're like, 'That's unbelievable, you won a silver medal.' You're just like, 'Yeah, but you know how close we were to a gold medal? Do you know how close we were in the most-watched hockey game of all time?'
"It still stings."
Brent Seabrook, Team Canada: "It's unbelievable, you know. You're playing in your home country. Canada is hockey. It was pretty cool to see. As cool as it was to be on the ice and stuff like that, I think the memories personally I remember the most is seeing the footage of Toronto and Montreal and the cities across Canada where people were just funneling out of bars and restaurants and stuff like that, filling the streets -- was pretty neat to see. To see that happen and even walking around after the game and going to a few bars in Vancouver, just seeing the people and atmosphere was pretty neat."
Rick Nash: "We played a day and a half later. I flew with the Canucks team because we were playing against them. ... I rode to the airport with Luongo. It was kind of fun, reminiscing a little bit before with him. Once we got on the plane, I was back to being a Blue Jacket and they were Canucks. It was as if those two weeks was over and it was just a switch that you flip when you play in these things."
Patrick Sharp: "All the Blackhawks there at the Olympics represented themselves well, not just Canada but Patrick Kane played so well for the U.S. It was something that was pretty cool to watch."
Corey Perry: "It was a little different playing against your teammates. But the best thing was that we all came back with a medal. There was Teemu [Selanne], Saku [Koivu] from Finland, and Bobby [Ryan] from the U.S. and Ryan Whitney was here at the same time [along with Niedermayer and Getzlaf]. To all come back with a medal, that's pretty cool and to have that cool picture that we have, those are memories that everybody's going to keep."
Jarome Iginla: "It was very memorable for a lot of reasons. Being at home, and I've been fortunate to be in three Olympics and they're all special in a different way, but the atmosphere in Vancouver was pretty much a big party for the Olympics for two weeks. Playing hockey in Canada, there's always pressure to win a gold medal. As a fan and as a player, you go in there expecting that you're going to have a chance to win a gold medal, and you want to win a gold medal. There's a pressure there, but the way it all ended, it was a pretty dramatic last game."
Ryan Getzlaf: "Everybody wants to compare the Stanley Cup to the gold medal all the time. It's two totally different things when you're talking about the celebration and enjoying the moment. That was the biggest thing. It took a couple of days before you could take a breath and realize what happened."
Sidney Crosby: "People come up and say, 'This is where I was,' 'I was on vacation in Dominican,' 'I was in this bar.' That's really cool. I remember as a kid where I watched Salt Lake, that kind of thing. As a kid dreaming, I was like Gretzky to [Steve] Yzerman; we all did that playing outside, and to be able to do that is pretty cool."
David Backes: "Getting back home, after the road trip after the Olympics, you start to realize the magnitude of the game.
"Still, one of the great games that's been played."
Ryan Miller: "It was a tough moment, so much going on in your head. A lot of what-ifs. But it's a hockey game; it's over. You can't go out and play it again. You try to move on.
"It was a nice honor [to be awarded MVP]. People give me a lot of credit, but our team really came together and everyone played their roles exactly how they were supposed to. That doesn't get talked about enough. The way the team was selected and the way management and coaches handled everything -- they knew what we needed to believe going into it and there was no doubt every player on that team was willing to do anything that the coaches or management asked of them. They had a pretty accurate assessment of what the tournament would be like and what we needed to do to win. Our game plan worked. ... We made it to final for a reason. 1.) Because we believed we could do it. 2.) We did everything necessary."
Wayne Gretzky: "That was phenomenal for the whole country. And it was also icing on the cake for the Olympic Games in Vancouver as a whole."
As told to: Scott Burnside, Craig Custance, Pierre LeBrun, Katie Strang, Joe McDonald, Scott Powers