Maybe it was appropriate that Team USA came out for its Group A finale against Canada wearing replicas of the jerseys worn by the 1960 gold-medal winning team -- because until Sunday night, that was the last American team to beat Canada in the Olympics.
Not any more.
The young Americans got their first four goals from a trio of golden oldies -- Brian Rafalski, Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner -- as they beat the Canadians 5-3 before a stunned crowd at Canada Hockey Place. Rafalski, who scored the last two goals in Thursday's 6-1 win over Norway, scored the first two against Canada. Drury broke a 2-2 tie at 16:46 of the second period and Langenbrunner added a power-play goal in the third.
Langenbrunner's goal proved to be the winner when Sidney Crosby deflected home a pass by Ryan Getzlaf for a power-play goal with 3:09 remaining. That triggered a barrage of shots by the Canadians against Ryan Miller, but Ryan Kesler iced the win by diving to swat Zach Parise
's dump-out into the empty net with 44.7 seconds remaining.
Miller, perhaps the NHL's best goaltender so far this season, was brilliant in making 42 saves while outplaying Canada's Martin Brodeur
, who stopped 17 shots.
The victory, the third in as many games for the Americans (3-0-0-0), gave them first place in Group A and a bye through to Wednesday's quarterfinals. Canada (1-1-1-0) will have to play Germany in Tuesday's qualifying round.
It was the first meeting in Olympic play between the North American rivals since Canada's 5-2 victory in the gold-medal game at Salt Lake City eight years ago. The Americans hadn't beaten Canada in Olympic play since the 1960 team won 2-1 at Squaw Valley on the way to the gold medal.
The Americans came out flying -- and turned that energy into a goal just 41 seconds into the game. Langenbrunner's forechecking got the puck to Ryan Suter at the left point. Suter fed Rafalski at the right point, and Rafalski waited what seemed like an eternity before shooting. His slapper wasn't a rocket, but it hit Crosby and deflected into the net to give Team USA a quick lead.
But the bigger Canadians then began to carry the play, forcing Miller to be sharp. He robbed Crosby from the slot less than three minutes in and held the fort on Canada's first power play when Joe Pavelski was called for high-sticking at 6:07.
However, the Canadians' persistence was rewarded at 8:53 when Eric Staal got a piece of Brent Seabrook's blast from the right point, knocking it down and past Miller to tie the game.
The celebrating at Canada Hockey Place lasted all of 22 seconds. That's how long it took for Rafalski to knock down a clearing try up the middle by Brodeur, skate into the high slot and sling a shot that went past Brodeur's glove at 9:15.
Canada had by far the better of the play over the last 10-plus minutes and ended up outshooting the Americans 19-6. But Miller was up to every challenge, and the period ended with Team USA leading 2-1.
The lead didn't last long after the second period began, as the Canadians continued to control the tempo. Jonathan Toews controlled the puck to the right of Miller and slung a half-shot, half-pass off the goaltender's pads. The puck came right to Dany Heatley, who slammed it into the wide-open net at 3:32.
Canada kept thumping the Americans but went nearly eight minutes without getting another shot on Miller. The U.S. finally tested Brodeur with just over eight minutes left in the period when a point shot from Rafalski after a faceoff win got through and Parise got a whack at the rebound. On the return rush, Miller made a nice stop on Scott Niedermayer's blast from the slot.
Brodeur took a shot in the mask just past the 14:30 mark when Pavelski's 45-foot straightaway blast knuckled through a Niedermayer screen and caught him on the side of the head before going out of play. Brodeur stayed on, but forward Corey Perry left the ice briefly less than two minutes later when he was steamrolled in a three-way collision with Staal and teammate Chris Pronger.
The Canadians' dominance began to erode as the period went on, and Team USA used a good forecheck to jump back on top at 16:14. Brodeur got knocked down when Pronger slammed into Davis Backes and tried to scramble his way back into position. He dove headlong to try to stop Ryan, but only succeeded in putting the puck back into the slot -- where Drury slammed it into the half-empty net.
Brodeur kept it a one-goal game after Drury's goal by stopping Dustin Brown on a breakaway and the rebound. Rafalski then broke up a solo bid by Canada's Joe Thornton and sprung Ryan for another breakaway that Brodeur also stopped.
The Americans ended the period up 3-2 and outshot Canada 13-12.
Canada killed a penalty to Staal that overlapped the second and third periods, and another early in the third when Crosby was called for high-sticking Brooks Orpik, his teammate with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Canadians were called for a third consecutive penalty when Perry was called for slashing after breaking Brown's stick with a chop -- and they paid the price when Rafalski's left-point blast caught Langenbrunner's skate and deflected past Brodeur.