The British skip perhaps was too ambitious for her own good Wednesday.
With the clock running down and her team behind 8-6 to Canada at the women’s Olympic tournament, Muirhead could have played an easy draw to the button with her last stone to take a tense game to an extra end at 8-8.
Instead, she gambled on removing three tightly bunched Canadian rocks to pick up three points for the win. The move backfired, and Canada clinched a 9-6 victory to stay unbeaten in three round-robin games.
“It was a gamble but … that’s the skip,” Muirhead said. “They get the glory when they make them or the slack if they miss them.”
It consigned Britain, one of the favorites for gold, to a second loss in three games and left Canada atop the standings with Switzerland.
At least the world champion Brits still have a decent chance of qualifying.
The same can’t be said of the United States.
Erika Brown’s rink lost its fourth straight, 7-4 to China, and likely will need to win all five of its remaining round-robin games to stand a chance of reaching the semifinals.
“We are going to stay upbeat whatever happens,” Brown said. “We worked really hard to be here. We are doing our best out there and we’ll keep fighting.”
In other matches in the afternoon session, defending champion Sweden beat Korea 7-4 and host nation Russia lost to Japan 8-4.
China, Japan and Sweden are all 2-1.
As Muirhead pondered what might have been after her game-defining shot went awry, Canada skip Jennifer Jones shuffled down the ice toward a small band of Canadian fans and gave them a round of applause.
It was as much a celebration of relief as happiness.
Jones - the form skip in Sochi - played another great game, making 93 percent of her shots, and generally outshining Muirhead.