Jamie Benn leads Canada to win over U.S. in men's hockey semifinal
Canada now faces Sweden for gold on Sunday
Team Canada has advanced to the gold medal game in men's hockey at the Sochi Olympics, beating the U.S. 1-0 in Friday's semifinal.
A second-period goal by Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars was all Canada needed to move on to the gold medal game against Sweden on Sunday at 7 a.m. ET.
The U.S. plays Finland for bronze on Saturday.
Carey Price recorded the shutout for Canada in another tight game that had fans on edge.
And it turns out the Canadian men didn’t need Marie-Philip Poulin after all.
There were lots of jokes on Twitter about the scoring ace from the Canadian women’s team joining the low-scoring men’s team for its semifinal game against the high-scoring United States.
But with Price stopping all 31 shots he faced, the Canadians didn't need any more scoring.
Price and Jonathan Quick both played strong games Friday. Price was the game’s first star, while Quick made 36 saves and was the second star.
After the game, Price said he didn’t have a particular game plan for beating the United States. “Our backchecking was excellent tonight and our forechecking was good,” he said.
“Trying to stay on the right side of the puck the whole night, the effort was there. We knew that was a good hockey club over there and we just found a way to win.
“For me, it was just about stopping the puck. That was priority No. 1. That was my only focus.”
U.S. defenceman Ryan Suter, who was an important reason why the Americans had a strong tournament, said the loss to Canada in Sochi hurts more than the one in Vancouver.
"We didn't show up to play and it's just very frustrating," said Suter, who played 26:11 in the semifinal.
Biggest goal ever
Benn said the goal he scored against Team USA was the biggest he has ever scored. “I’d have to say so,” Benn said.
“It doesn’t get much better than that. We found a way to win and it was a great team effort.”
The mild-mannered Benn, whose name was trending on Twitter during the game, knows he may have to deal with his new-found celebrity after coming through for Canada and said he can deal with that.
“Yeah, I think so,” Benn said with a chuckle. “You know, it’s a lot of fun. Those are the games you want to play in – the big ones — the ones that matter the most. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one.”
Kessel’s quick start
Just 23 seconds into the game Phil Kessel of the United States cut hard to the net from the right wing boards and took one of his patented snap shots, but was turned aside by Price.
Kessel entered the game leading the tournament in scoring with five goals and eight points.
Benn made a sweet backhand pass to an open Jay Bouwmeester at the left point and Bouwmeester drilled a low shot that Benn tipped past Quick to make it 1-0 for Canada at 1:41 of the second period.
With John Tavares out for the rest of the season thanks to a bum knee, Canada put winger Matt Duchene back in the lineup. Team USA switched Justin Faulk for Paul Martin on defence. Martin has an injured hand.
The United States was forced to take a time out late in the second period after it was called for icing and its five players who were on the ice – and had to stay out – were exhausted.
Power play fail
In search of an insurance goal, Canada went to the power play midway through the third period when Kessel was sent off for hooking, but came up empty.
Any eye on the kid
Canada’s Sidney Crosby has been under heat for not producing in Sochi, but had his best game of the tournament against the United States. Once again Crosby was held off the score sheet, but he had numerous scoring chances and played with plenty of energy. His left-winger, Chris Kunitz, also played a strong game.
Hockey NHL style
Coaches have two extra skaters available to them in Olympic hockey games, but Canadian coach Mike Babcock used just 18 as he does in NHL games. Forward Martin St. Louis and defenceman Dan Hamhuis dressed for Canada, but didn’t get a shift. Likewise, forward Blake Wheeler was shiftless for Team USA.
Goalless in Sochi
For Canada: Duncan Keith, Dan Hamhuis, Matt Duchene, Chris Kunitz, Jonathan Toews, Jay Bouwmeester, John Tavares (injured), Corey Perry, Alex Pietrangelo, Marc-Édouard Vlasic, P.K. Subban (played one game) and Sidney Crosby.
For USA: Paul Martin, Derek Stepan, Ryan Suter, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Callahan, Brooks Orpik and Justin Faulk.