The United States used an early offensive explosion and outstanding play from goalie John Gibson to defeat Canada 5-1 in the semifinals at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Jake McCabe had two goals and an assist and John Gaudreau had a pair of goals as the Americans advanced to Saturday's gold medal game (8 a.m. EST, NHLN-US, TSN). They'll face the winner of the second semifinal, between Russia and Sweden.
The United States has won the gold medal just twice in WJC history, in 2004 and 2010.
Ty Rattie scored Canada's lone goal. Canada will play Saturday in the bronze-medal game (4 a.m. EST, NHLN-US, TSN) for the second straight year, against the losing team from the second semifinal.
"It starts with desperation. We simply did not have the same desperation as the Americans had today," Canada coach Steve Spott told TSN. "They simply outworked our hockey club. There's no excuse for that."
The United States jumped to a 4-0 lead after two periods, and backstopping the effort was Gibson, who made 36 saves.
"He's been outstanding for us," United States coach Phil Housley told NHL Network. "He's given us a chance to win every game, and he's made some key saves for us."
Gibson was at his best in the third period when Canada made its biggest push of the game on a power play midway through the period.
Early in the advantage Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who entered the game as the tournament's leading scorer, got the puck alone in the slot, but Gibson managed to get a piece of the shot with his glove, deflecting it over the crossbar. Seconds later, Gibson had to dive out to get his pad on a shot by Dougie Hamilton, who was open in the slot just to the right of the American net.
Canada had 16 shots in the third, the most it had in any period.
"We had to weather the storm in the third period, we knew Canada would come," Housley said. "We pulled through and I'm very proud of our guys."
The United States was playing its sixth game in eight days -- and its third set of back-to-back games -- while Canada was coming off a day of rest it earned for winning Group B. However, the Americans came out as the faster team and got the scoring started early.
McCabe, the American captain who made the team based more on his defensive ability -- he has just two goals in 16 games this season at the University of Wisconsin -- pinched into the high slot to score the game's first goal. Riley Barber got open in front and had a pair of chances, but Canada goalie Malcolm Subban stopped both attempts. The puck rolled back to Barber a third time, and he spotted McCabe by himself. McCabe's shot through heavy traffic found its way over Subban's glove at 7:18 for his second goal in six games of the WJC.
Later in the first, Rocco Grimaldi rushed the puck into the Canada end and dropped a pass for McCabe, and he ripped a shot past Subban's glove with 3:58 left in the first to make it 2-0.
The Americans continued to push the play in the second, with Gaudreau carrying the puck into the Canada end, making a nice move to drag the puck around Canadian defenseman Ryan Murphy and beating Subban just 2:58 into the period.
Vesey made it 4-0 when he took a pass from Gaudreau, stepped around Canada's Xavier Ouellet and beat Subban to the far side, over his blocker, at 12:24.
That ended Subban's game, as the Boston Bruins prospect was replaced for the first time in the tournament by Jordan Binnington. Subban finished with 12 saves on 16 shots.
Canada had chances to get on the scoreboard, but Gibson made a nice save on an open Ryan Strome early in the period, and stopped Anthony Camara on a re-direction with 1:28 left.
The third period saw Canada finally generate offensive pressure as coach Steve Spott changed a few of his lines, but all they could manage came was Rattie's strange shorthanded goal at 4:03 of the period.
With Canada skating a man down due to a penalty for having too many men on the ice, Canada was pressuring in the American end when Philip Danault's shot hit the side of the United States net and kicked into the slot. Rattie fired a shot that hit the post, and when it appeared one of the referees blew his whistle, the Americans thought the play had been blown dead. However, the puck bounced back to Rattie, who scored. The goal was upheld after a video replay.
Canada continued to press, but Gibson kept allowed the Americans to hold on and Gaudreau's goal off a long pass from J.T. Miller closed the scoring. The goal was Gaudreau's seventh of the tournament, all in the last three games, and puts him one goal shy of Jeremy Roenick's American record of eight in one tournament.