Canada Beats U.S., 3-2, to Win Gold Medal in Women’s Hockey

All through the Beijing Games, the unchecked swagger of Canada’s women’s hockey team had been conspicuous for all to see — and to admire, smoke over and fear.

There were the humiliations of the teams that would play for the bronze medal, the edgy digs at rivals, the nuanced critiques of the failed strategies to challenge Ann-Renée Desbiens, the goaltender who made the Canadian creases a fortress.

The Canadians proved Thursday that all of it was justified: They overpowered the United States in the gold medal game, 3-2, and reclaimed the Olympic crown that the Americans had startlingly earned four years ago.

It was a display of strong-armed, swarming play by Canada, blended with a few doses of luck and an angsty, furious drive that started with an Olympic loss in 2018 and then swelled for a quadrennium.

The outcome was nearly sterling, and one that the Canadians had tiptoed toward predicting. To them, a gold medal was less about redemption and more about simply meeting a ceaselessly high standard.

Canada appeared to strike about seven minutes into the game, when the American goaltender Alex Cavallini deflected a puck and saw Natalie Spooner sweep in with a powerful shot that crossed the goal line. The United States, though, contended that Canada had been offside — an assessment the officials upheld after a challenge by the Americans.

It was a respite that kept the game scoreless for only 35 more seconds, when, after Canada won a face-off, Sarah Nurse took a pass from Claire Thompson, spun and scored, the puck rattling into the right side of the net.

Canada added its second goal later in the period, when Marie-Philip Poulin, the Canadian captain who was playing in her fourth Games and all but unchallenged at that moment by Americans, skated to near the goal-end edge of the United States’ bench and mounted a shot that gained lift and speed and then surged into the net. Canada took its 2-0 lead into the intermission.

Poulin fueled the mounting American despair about midway through the second, when she scored after another shot had bounced off Cavallini.

Hilary Knight scored a short-handed goal for the United States late in the second, when she seized a deflected puck and popped it into the net, promising that the Americans would at least avoid the indignity of a scoreless showing when a gold medal was for the taking.

Even though the United States added a power-play goal with about 13 seconds to play in the third, neither score would prove anywhere near enough.

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