Team Canada finished its 2018 Winter Olympic preliminary matchups with a 2-1 victory over the United States Wednesday evening. Sarah Nurse had the game-winner for the Canadians late in the second period, though Team USA was within striking distance all game.
Canadian goaltender Genevieve Lacasse stopped 44 American shots in an impressive effort to keep Team Canada in the game. Her counterpart on the other side of the ice, Maddie Rooney, had 21 saves in a losing effort.
While the game meant nothing for the preliminary standings, as both the United States and Canada already qualified for the semifinals due to their previous performances, the match was a long-awaited one after Team USA lost a heartbreaker in the 2014 gold medal game in Sochi.
In the opening minutes, a terrible Canadian line change nearly cost the reigning gold medal champions an early lead as Hilary Knight went in all alone on a breakaway four minutes in. However, Lacasse shut the door on the incredible chance.
Later in the first period, Marie-Philip Poulin was called for a crease violation, which stymied a Canadian scoring opportunity. Brigette Lacquette had put the puck in the net but just after the whistle had blown for the violation.
The Canadians got a late power play to cap off the scoreless first period, but the Americans were there to shut down the opportunity.
After the first period, Team USA led Canada in shots, 14-12.
Team Canada got another power play in the opening six minutes of the second period, marking a costly penalty for the United States. Meghan Agosta picked up a no-look pass in front of the net and deposited the puck behind Rooney for the 1-0 lead 7:18 into the second frame.
Meghan Agosta takes the no look backhand pass from Spooner and sneaks it by Rooneyhttps://t.co/WreKNfDJNL— Chris Abraham (@CrzyCanucklehed) February 15, 2018
With five minutes left in the second period, Nurse picked a corner over the shoulder of Rooney to double Team Canada’s lead. There were doubts whether the play was onside, but the Americans did not challenge, and the goal stood as called.
The United States did get a rare penalty shot after a Canadian player covered up the puck in the crease. Jocelyne Lamoureux was denied by Lacasse on the one-on-one opportunity. Team USA carried the end of play in the second period after a late power play but was stopped once again by the Canadian defense and Lacasse.
Kendall Coyne got the United States on the board with a 2-1 tally 23 seconds into the third period. The Americans got Coyne on a breakaway, and the forward split the Canadian defense before putting the puck through the five-hole to energize her team coming out of intermission.
Kendall Coyne can fly, splitting the defense and firing a shot past Lacasse to cut Canada's lead to 1https://t.co/nkn3PO0ALB— Chris Abraham (@CrzyCanucklehed) February 15, 2018
Canada believed it had scored a goal with 9:08 to play in the third period when Haley Irwin got in tight in the American crease. After review, it was determined Irwin had kicked the puck into the net.
Team Canada was given two other chances to go up by two goals after the United States was called for penalties late in the period, but the Americans killed the power plays without much problem.
Team USA had its own power-play chance late, but the team was unable to get anything done with the advantage before falling, 2-1, in a close game.
The United States will play in one of the semifinal matches Feb. 19 with a chance to face Canada again in the gold medal match.