Just about every true hockey fan predicted the United States and Canada would meet in the women’s hockey gold medal game again at the 2022 Winter Olympics. And as fate would have it, that’s exactly what the world got. The two fierce rivals faced off for the title for the sixth time in the last seven Olympics late Wednesday night, and after falling to the U.S. in the gold medal game in PyeongChang, the Canadians reclaimed the gold in Beijing with a 3-2 victory over the Americans.
Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin was a force throughout the final. She netted two goals and added an assist in the tilt, giving her 17 total points through seven games in Beijing.
With her pair of goals, Poulin became the first player in Olympic history, male or female, to score in four gold medal games.
Poulin is the top women’s hockey player in the world, and she played like it against the Americans.
“It was a group effort,” she said after the game. “It was line after line, put pressure (on), and we put it in when it was the right time.”
The Canadians came out fast and furious to start the tilt. After an early goal from Natalie Spooner was taken off the board due to an offside call, Sarah Nurse broke the ice at the 7:50 mark of the first period with a redirection of a Claire Thompson point shot off the draw. Poulin then doubled her squad’s lead late in the frame with her first marker, capitalizing on a U.S. defensive-zone turnover and beating American goaltender Alex Cavallini, who appeared to have lost track of the puck.
Poulin later netted her second goal of the game in the middle period after burying a juicy rebound off of Cavallini, putting the U.S. in a 3-0 hole.
The Americans finally scored their first goal of the game late in the second period when Hilary Knight (who else?) slid a rebound past Canada netminder Ann-Renee Desbiens on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush. Knight’s tally briefly swung momentum in the U.S.’s favor, but the temporary shot of adrenaline wasn’t enough to narrow the gap.
Amanda Kessel got the U.S. within one goal of Canada with a garbage-time tally on a 6-on-4 advantage in the game’s waning seconds, but at that point it was too little too late. The Canadians drained the last 12 second of the game with ease, and the celebration soon followed.
Despite Kessel’s marker on the advantage, the U.S. power play was downright dreadful in the title game and, frankly, throughout the tournament. The Americans managed just seven power-play tallies on 29 opportunities at the Games — an abysmal output with the amount of talent on the U.S. roster. And the loss of Brianna Decker in the tournament opener certainly didn’t do the power play any favors.
The U.S. came up short in more areas than just the power play, though. They also missed several quality scoring chances that could have greatly influenced the contest’s outcome. Just after the game’s two-minute mark, Hannah Brandt missed a wide-open net that would have given the U.S. an early lead. And early in the third period, Alex Carpenter hit the post with Desbiens in complete disarray with chaos erupting all around her.
The Americans ended up outshooting Canada 40-21 in the contest, but without converting on their scoring opportunities, the shot differential was inconsequential.
With this victory, the Canadians now have five of the seven gold medals awarded for women’s hockey at the Olympics.
Canada is back on top of the women’s hockey world, and the U.S. is going back to the drawing board as veterans Knight, Decker and Kendall Coyne Schofield consider their Olympic futures.
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