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SOCHI, Russia — For the rematch, Canada skipped the overtime and shelved the theatrics.
One slick goal and 60 minutes of stifling defensive hockey kept the Canadians firmly on top of the U.S. and moved them to the brink of gold again.
Canada advanced to the gold-medal match Sunday against Sweden, which beat Finland 2-1 in the earlier semifinal at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
With an unbeaten run through Sochi, the Canadians are a win away from their third gold medal in four Olympics, and they’re guaranteed their first medals outside North America in 20 years.
Although it was fast-paced and well-played, this win had none of the flair of Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal to beat the U.S. four years ago. The Canadians didn’t care.
“We didn’t score a lot of goals, but we didn’t have to,” Canada forward Jonathan Toews said. “The next game will follow that work ethic. We can check, we can work our tails off, and we can make things real tough for the other team.”
After its first loss in Sochi, the U.S. will face Finland for bronze on Saturday. The Americans were hoping for redemption from their gut-wrenching defeat in 2010, but they only got a businesslike reminder of Canada’s clout.
“We didn’t show up to play,” U.S. defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It’s too bad. … We sat back. We were passive. You can’t play scared. I thought we sat on our heels and just didn’t take it to them at all.”
Indeed, the defending Olympic champions left little doubt about their North American hockey dominance in a rematch of the finale of the Vancouver Games. Although the Canadians had no signature moments and never pulled away, they also never appeared seriously threatened.
From faceoff to final buzzer, Canada was in control thanks to Price, Benn and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, whose pass created Benn’s goal. All three players weren’t on the Canadian team in Vancouver, but they’re a win away from earning their own gold medals.
“Obviously we knew it was going to be a tight match going in,” Benn said. “We found a way to get one, our team played great team defense, and our goalie shut the door.”
The Canadians haven’t even trailed in the Sochi Olympics, and they coolly maintained border supremacy on the U.S. by defending their blue line with authority.
Their stifling defense has allowed just three goals in five games, and they clamped down on an American offense that had scored 19 goals in Sochi for every minute of a slightly anti-climactic evening.
“We didn’t really create much offense,” U.S. forward Patrick Kane said. “It’s a little disappointing. … I think everyone expected a tight-checking game, but to say we would have gotten shut out, I don’t think anyone would have thought that.”
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