SOCHI, Russia – For the fourth straight Winter Games, the Canadian women won Olympic hockey gold, this time with one of the most stunning rallies in the history of the sport.
Marie-Philip Poulin, who earlier sparked a third-period rally for Canada, scored from the left circle past goalie Jessie Vetter with 11:50 left in overtime, giving Canada the 3-2 win, its 20th straight Olympic victory, its fourth straight gold medal and leaving their arch rivals Team USA stunned.
A cross-checking call on U.S. forward Hilary Knight, who appeared to trip up star Haley Wickenheiser on a breakaway chance, gave Canada the overtime 4-on-3 power play.
[Photos: USA vs. Canada gold medal showdown]
Canada sent the game into overtime with two goals in the last 3:26 of regulation, as Brianne Jenner scored off an American defender and Poulin took advantage of a miscue by goalie Jessie Vetter to tie the game with 54.6 seconds left.
Team USA won its second straight silver medal, having lost to Canada in the Vancouver 2010 Games.
It was another classic battle between the titans of women’s hockey.
An energetic first period gave way to a tightly played second period. The U.S. finally broke through at 11:57 on a goal by captain Megan Duggan. After a turnover just outside the blue line by Catherine Ward, Jocelyne Lamoureux skated in and cut to the slot. She lost the puck, but took two Canada defenders with her.
That opened a shooting lane for Duggan; using a screen in front by Julie Chu – playing in her third gold medal game for the U.S. – Duggan popped the puck into the top right corner for the 1-0 lead.
They added a goal 2:01 into the third period. Tara Watchorn was in the penalty box for tripping – her third minor of the night – when Kelli Stack moved the puck from below the goal line to Hilary Knight at the left point. She sent a pinpoint pass to Alex Carpenter in front, who deflected it home for the 2-0 lead.
Carpenter is the daughter of former NHL player Bobby Carpenter.
Canada began its rally with 3:26 left in regulation. Brianne Jenner cut through the American defense and lofted a shot that went off defenseman Kacey Bellamy and in. Bolshoy Ice Dome’s heavily Canadian crowd roared. The rally was on.
Canada pulled goalie Shannon Szabados with 1:35 left. An American scoring attempt toward the empty net slowly slid down ice and off the left post at 1:24.
Moments later, Canada tied the game.
Marie Philip-Poulin took advantage of a rebound coughed up by Jessie Vetter, who failed to cover the puck routinely. She shook a check from Duggan and fired the puck on her forehand with 54.6 seconds remaining.
Szabados (27 saves) made two saves in the first minute of 4-on-4 overtime, including a stellar glove save.
The overtime was notable for its parade of penalties: Catherine Ward of Canada for a crosscheck, followed by Lamoureux for a slash on the goaltender, followed by Knight on Wickenheiser.
The U.S. lost to Canada, 3-2, in preliminaries. It was the first year under a new format that placed the two best nations in women’s hockey into the same group, in order to make games more competitive in the tournament.