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A little slice of hockey heaven in Vancouver

February 16, 2010 |  5:36 pm

In Pal Grotnes' official Olympic biography he lists his occupation as "carpenter."

After his performance in the first period of Norway's preliminary-round opener against heavily favored Canada on Tuesday at Hockey Canada Place, he's more than entitled to add that he's a pretty fair goaltender, too.

Grotnes stopped 14 shots, including an astonishing glove save on Sidney Crosby late in the period, to keep Norway and Canada even at 0-0 through the first period. Roberto Luongo of the hometown Vancouver Canucks made four saves, each greeted with affectionate chants of "Loo," for his nickname, Bobby Lu.

The energy in the arena was good for Tuesday's first game, Team USA's 3-1 victory over Switzerland, but the excitement levels were off the charts for Canada's game as adoring fans finally got to see their national team. Every line and defense pair Canada put out there was staggeringly good.

Crosby was centering for Rick Nash and Patrice Bergeron, the San Jose line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley was intact, Ryan Getzlaf--showing no ill effects of the ankle sprain he suffered last week--centered for Ducks teammate Corey Perry and Carolina's Eric Staal, and Chicago's Jonathan Toews skated alongside Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow.

On defense, the Ducks' Scott Niedermayer had Nashville's Shea Weber as a partner, though Niedermayer also had some shifts with 20-year-old Drew Doughty of the Kings. Doughty also got some time with Chris Pronger, and if you want to talk about going from one extreme to another, that surely is a prime example. Pronger played many shifts with San Jose's Dan Boyle and was on the first power-play unit with the Sharks defenseman and the Thornton line.

The  Chicago Blackhawks defense pair of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith stayed together,  providing familiarity to a team that, like most, had only one practice before its first game.

More later at www.latimes.com/sports

--Helene Elliott in Hockey Heaven, also known as Vancouver

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