The dominant Canada women’s team finished off a buzzsaw run through the Olympic competition with a dominating victory over their defining opponents, defeating the United States 3-2 in the gold medal game on Thursday.
For the half-hour when the outcome genuinely hung in the balance, the latest installment of one of the world’s most intensely contested rivalries was essentially one-way traffic. “Captain Clutch” Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice as the defending world champions took a three-goal lead behind an intense forechecking assault and an outstanding performance by in-form goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens, who made 38 saves.
“This is redemption,” Poulin stated after scoring her sixth and seventh goals in four Olympic gold medal games in her career. “It’s really fantastic.” It’s a fantastic sensation. It took a tremendous amount of effort.”
After six of the first seven attempts on goal, Canada seemed to draw first blood after eight minutes when Natalie Spooner struck the back of the net following a botched zone clearing. On a replay challenge by the United States, the score was overturned for offsides, but Canada grabbed control with a goal by Sarah Nurse 5 seconds after play resumed.
Poulin extended the lead before the end of the first, capitalizing on a dreadful USA defensive zone turnover. The well-drilled Canadian defense was restricting their opponents to primarily speculative attempts on goal while peppering away from closer range on Alex Cavallini, who finished with 18 saves, but the stat sheet at the first interval revealed an evenly matched encounter beyond the score.
Poulin scored again midway through the second period, this time with an assist from Nurse, who extended an Olympic record with his 18th point of the tournament.
If the powers that be were wise, the US and Canada would compete in an annual best-of-seven series – a fixture with a trophy that would keep this rivalry in the public spotlight beyond the present promotional tours when they meet for exhibitions — that would keep this rivalry in the public view. That’s a discussion for another time. For the time being, Canada may rejoice in the fact that it is hosting the Olympic and world championships at the same time for the first time in over a decade.
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