SOCHI, Russia – They’re still the little brothers. They’re still good but not good enough. They still can’t beat Canada.
Team USA saw its high-octane offense stalled in the Olympic semifinals by a confident, unflappable Canadian team that won 1-0 on Friday night in Sochi, in a rematch of their 2010 gold-medal classic in the Vancouver Olympics.
Canada advances to play Sweden on Sunday, seeking back-to-back gold; the Americans face Finland on Saturday in an attempt to salvage bronze.
The U.S. entered the semifinal game with the highest-scoring offense in the Olympic tournament, with 20 goals in four games.
But against Canada’s stingy puck possession game, all-world corps of defensemen and a steady Price in goal, the American attack that went goal-for-goal with Russia was neutered. The team that had exploited the larger ice surface in Sochi better than anyone in the tournament was frustrated all game.
At 2:41 of the second period, the Canadians broke through with their only goal. Ryan Getzlaf controlled behind the net, passing to Benn in the slot. He fed the puck back to an open Jay Boumeester at the left point, who then sent the puck back through to Benn for a deflection past Quick. Both Ryan Callahan and Brooks Orpik let Benn slide through the crease for the deflection.
For the rest of the period, the U.S. tried to break through Canada’s puck possessing game to no avail. Two power play chances produced nothing. Their offense produced 11 shots on goal; it didn’t produce any semblance of sustained threat.
The third period saw some limited chances for the Americans, but Price was there to answer scoring chances from U.S. forwards Zach Parise and Patrick Kane.
James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel, the U.S. stars that had points on every opening goal they scored in the tournament, couldn’t produce one against Canada’s top pairing of Duncan Keith and Shea Weber. Patrick Kane skated into 1-on-3 attempts. Coach Dan Bylsma split up the heralded "Mean Line" of the team's most physical players, but none could energize the attack.
Their best player was Quick, who kept the score at 1-0 with some acrobatic saves amongst the 37 shots he faced.
Quick was pulled in the last moments of the game, but even with the extra attacker the United States didn’t produce a shot. And so it went.
For Canada, the victory provides a chance to win double-gold for the second straight Olympics, after the women shocked the U.S. in overtime of their gold medal game.
Shannon Szabados, Brianne Jenner and Hayley Wickenheiser of Canada's women’s team wrote a letter to the men that hung in their locker room. It read, in part: “Tonight is yours. Own the moment.”
And they did.