With a berth to the gold-medal game on the line in an intense rematch of the 2010 Olympic finals, Canada once again earned a narrow victory over the USA in the tournament’s last semifinal game Friday.
“We were on top of the puck, we were winning battles, we were on the right side of the puck, we were all over the place tonight and we were just fortunate to get that one goal that got us ahead,” goaltender Carey Price told NBC Sports Net’s Pierre McGuire.
The USA entered the matchup as the highest scoring team in the tournament, having netted 20 goals through its first four games. But behind Price’s 31 saves, Canada shut out the Americans en route to the 1-0 victory.
“Well I told Price after the game, he controls the whole pace of the game,” Anaheim forward Ryan Getzlaf said. “When he eats pucks and swallows them, gets those faceoffs for us it slows everything down and calms our team down.”
Dallas’ Jamie Benn scored the game’s lone goal nearly two minutes into the second period. The forward passed to Jay Bouwmeester and cut towards the net, where his teammate fed the puck right back to him and Benn redirected it into the back of the net.
Benn is the only player for Canada that wasn’t invited to the country’s Olympic camp last summer and has experienced a lot of success in Sochi skating on a line with his NHL teammates Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
“I have a lot of fun playing with those guys back in the NHL,” Benn said. “We have good chemistry off of the ice, we’re always hanging out and it’s just fun to play with those guys.”
Goaltender Jonathan Quick made a number of terrific saves to keep the USA within one goal, including an acrobatic block followed by an outstretched dive onto the puck to slow down the Canadians late in the second period.
But after dominating offensively through the entire tournament, the Americans were unable to generate any goals against the defending gold-medal champions.
The Canadians have only allowed three goals in their five tournament games.
“It seems like we had a tough time sustaining any pressure in their end,” Rangers forward Ryan Callahan said. “They outnumbered us in their zone, came up with it quick and as we expected they were quick in transition.”
The Canadians will face Sweden Sunday (7 a.m. EST) in the gold-medal game as they continue their quest for back-to-back first-place Olympic finishes under Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. If Canada is victorious against the Swedes, Babcock will become the only coach to lead one country to a gold medal victory in consecutive Olympic appearances.
“They’re obviously a great team and they’ve went through this tournament with intense game so we have to make sure we’re ready in a couple days here,” Getzlaf said of Sweden.
The USA will battle Finland for the bronze medal on Saturday (10 a.m. EST).
Follow Andrea Nelson on Twitter @Nelson_Andrea