The United States, which had more than enough offense to speak for in its first four games of the Olympic tournament, had its scoring well run dry at the wrong time.
The only goal of the Americans' semifinal match-up against Canada came off the stick of Jamie Benn - a nifty re-direction on a give-and-go play with Jay Bouwmeester - early in the second period and Canada made it hold up. Carey Price wasn't tested much by Team USA, but he ended the day with 31 saves to lead Canada to its second straight Olympic gold medal game.
Only this time, they won't be facing an upstart American team in the final.
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Canada stepped up its defensive efforts in this game, sometimes stacking four and five players at its own blue line to force Team USA to chip the puck deep. On the big ice, forechecking is less prevalent and the U.S. saw the puck a lot less as a result; Canada's forwards also had the puck more in this game, which allowed for more attacking zone time and scoring chances.
And there's no question about it: Canada was the better team today and may have scored a few more goals if not for a stellar performance by Jonathan Quick.
The U.S. power play, which had been its bread and butter at times during the tournament, came up empty in the semifinal and they were not helped by an aggressive, swarming Canadian penalty kill.
So, the United States will play for bronze (10 a.m. ET Saturday, NBC Sports Network) against Finland and Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Canada is vying for back-to-back gold medals after winning on home soil in 2010, while a Team USA victory in the bronze medal game will secure consecutive Olympic medals for the Americans for the first time since 1960.
Following the bronze medal game, Blue Jackets coach and Team USA assistant Todd Richards will head back to Columbus and prepare for the playoff push. Columbus has 24 games remaining on its regular season schedule, and currently sits one point back of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Here are the upcoming match-ups:
Bronze medal game
Finland vs. United States
10 a.m., Bolshoy Ice Dome
Gold medal game
Sweden vs. Canada
7 a.m., Bolshoy Ice Dome