Marie-Philip Poulin capped a three-goal run by scoring on a penalty shot with 2:35 left in the second period, and Canada upended the defending Olympic champion United States 4-2 on Tuesday to claim the women’s hockey tournament’s top seed entering the playoff round.
Barring a major upset, the two global hockey powers are expected to meet eleven more in the gold-medal final next week.
In a fierce rivalry dating to before the women’s first Olympic tournament at the 1998 Nagano Games, and won by the Americans, the US and Canada put on yet another entertaining show at the Beijing Games in a fast-paced outing, with both teams trading leads .
Brianne Jenner scored twice, Poulin had a goal and assist and Jamie Lee Rattray also scored for Canada, who improved their Olympic record to 6-3 against the US. Anne-Renee Desbiens stopped 51 shots.
Alex Carpenter and Dani Cameranesi scored for the Americans. Maddie Rooney stopped 23 shots in getting her second start of the tournament. She’s the most experienced of America’s trio, and she backstopped the US in the 2018 gold medal-winning game, but she missed last year’s world championships while recovering from an injury.
Canada (4-0) and the US (3-1) are the tournament’s top seeds, and combined to out-score each of their first three opponents by a margin of 47-5. Their quarter-final matchups won’t be set until Finland plays Denmark to determine the Group B standings later in the day.
The game turned in Canada’s favor after Cameranesi, who converted her own rebound, and Carpenter, with a backhander on the power play, scored about two minutes apart to put the Americans up 2-1 with 11:34 remaining in the second period.
The Canadians answered 26 seconds later with Sarah Nurse’s spin-around backhand pass setting up Jenner for a one-timer in front. Rattray scored the go-ahead goal 2:25 later by tapping in Natalie Spooner’s centering pass.
The wheels fell off for the Americans while pressing for the typing goal on the power play. Poulin intercepted Jincy Dunne’s pass across the blue line and took off on a breakaway. Poulin’s shot was stopped by Rooney, but the Canadian captain was awarded a penalty shot with Cayla Barnes called for hooking.
Poulin, dubbed ‘Captain Clutch for scoring Olympic gold-medal-clinching goals in 2010 and 2014, came in from the left side and while driving across the crease flicked the puck inside left post with Rooney already moving the other way.
In out-shooting the Canadians 53-27 overall, the Americans had their share of chances but continued having difficulty finishing, similar to a 5-0 win over the Russian team on Saturday in which the US had a 62-12 shot edge. The US power play unit converted only one of six chances.
The struggles were readily apparent in the opening period, when the Americans had a 14-2 edge in shots before Canada opened the scoring on Jenner’s power-play goal 14:10 in. Poulin began the play at the top of the left circle by feeding the puck down low to Sarah Fillier, who immediately centered it to Jenner for a tap-in.
The Americans are the defending Olympic champions following a 3-2 shootout win in 2018, ending Canada’s four-tournament run of titles. The Canadians are the defending world champions following a 3-2 overtime win in August, which ended the US’s five-tournament run of titles.
Canada played its third game minus second-line forward Melodie Daoust, who is listed as day to day after being hurt in a tournament-opening 12-1 win over Switzerland. The US is expected to add Britta Curl to its lineup later this week to replace Brianna Decker, who broke her left ankle in the tournament-opening 5-2 win over Finland.
Referee Cianna Lieffers left the game 1:35 into the second period after being struck in the face by American player Amanda Kessel’s stick. Lieffers returned later in the period.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism