It felt more important than a pretournament game for the World Cup of Hockey 2016, but that's probably what should be expected when rivals meet.
In the end, after all the physical play, scrums and heavy checks were thrown, Team USA defeated Team Canada 4-2 at Nationwide Arena on Friday.
Joe Pavelski and Patrick Kane each scored and had an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 32 saves in two periods for Team USA.
"When the U.S. plays Canada, you're going to get that type of game whether it's an exhibition, preliminary game, semifinal or final; you're going to find yourself in that situation in this rivalry," Kane said.
The teams play again Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa in another pretournament game. The World Cup starts Sept. 17 in Toronto.
Team Canada goalie Carey Price, playing for the first time since a season-ending right-knee injury sustained Nov. 25 while playing for the Montreal Canadiens, made 21 saves.
Zach Parise scored the first goal for Team USA, and Derek Stepan scored into an empty net. Ben Bishop made nine saves in third period, allowing a goal to Drew Doughty at 5:21 that made it 3-2.
Patrice Bergeron also scored for Team Canada.
Price didn't have much work early; Team Canada had 12 of the first 13 shots through 12 minutes but could not score. The remainder of the period belonged to Team USA, which got a goal from Parise at 16:56 and one from Kane 65 seconds later to hold a 2-0 lead and an 18-15 edge in shots after the first.
"We give up a few chances right at the end of shifts, so we were trying to make some plays a little too pretty," Team Canada forward Jonathan Toews said.
Quick, a two-time Stanley Cup winner for the Los Angeles Kings, twice stopped Sidney Crosby early in the game, and less than a minute before Team USA scored the first goal he stopped Tyler Seguin in the slot.
"I was happy the way Jonathan played in that situation," Team USA coach John Tortorella said. "Then we found ourselves, then we dipped again."
Bergeron made it 2-1 at 13:24 of the second period on a rebound from the slot. Pavelski scored at 15:54 off transition for a 3-1 lead.
Goal of the game: Doughty showed why he is one of the best offensive defensemen when his shot from the right circle left goalie Bishop with no chance to stop it.
Save of the game: With Team USA holding a 3-2 lead in the third period, Bishop wandered toward the side wall and left the net open for Joe Thornton. But Team USA defenseman Ryan McDonagh went down and stopped the shot at the edge of the crease, and teammate Justin Abdelkader cleared Crosby from the rebound.
Unsung moment of the game: With 14:48 left in the second period, Team USA forward Ryan Kesler bailed out Quick to preserve a 2-0 lead. Quick made the initial save on Seguin, but the puck bounced to the right slot where John Tavares had Quick out of position. Kesler went to his knees at the goal line to block the shot. The momentum had shifted to Team Canada and a goal there might have been critical.
Highlight moment of the game: A simple redirect by Parise for a 1-0 lead. Subtle in nature, his ability to shirk the defense put him in position to get his stick on the long shot by Ryan Suter. Team Canada had dominated the game to that point, but the goal gave Team USA the lead.