Canadian hockey women extend Olympic streak with thrilling win

Canada last lost in gold-medal game at 1998 Olympics

Canadian hockey women extend Olympic streak with thrilling win
American Jocelyne Lamoureux, left, fights for the puck with Canadians Marie-Philip Poulin during Canada's 2-1 win, its 23rd consecutive Olympic victory, in Pyeongchang on Thursday. © Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

By Devin Heroux, CBC Sports

A penalty shot, a couple pucks off the post, two disallowed goals, a frantic finish and a post-game scrum in the crease.

All of that was part of another classic battle between the two women's hockey juggernauts at the Olympics in Pyeongchang. Canada and the United States can't seem to play a lacklustre game at the Games, and this one was no different. 

On Thursday inside the Kwandong Hockey Centre, the epic rivalry was renewed. And like so many times before, the Canucks found a way to win. A 2-1 final, with a heart-stopping finish that required a review to see if the Americans had scored. 

They hadn't. Game over. 

VIDEO | Canadian and American players scuffle after the final horn

"We wait for that moment," captain Marie-Philip Poulin said after the win. "We wait to play them and it was a great battle for both teams and it shows how much respect we have between the two teams."

The streak is now 23.

That's how many consecutive wins Canada has in women's hockey at the Olympics. 

In fact, it's almost exactly 20 years to the day since they last lost at the Games — the gold-medal game on Feb. 17, 1998 in Nagano, a 3-1 victory for the Americans in the first-ever women's Olympic women's hockey championship.

But it was a first-time Olympian, Sarah Nurse, that scored the eventual winner. In fact, Nurse was born just three years before that game in 1998.

"That was so incredible and so intense," she said. "Everyone has a role on this team. On any given night anyone can score a goal."

Lucky post

This game had it all. 

There were even lucky posts for the Canadians — twice, to be exact. The puck just wouldn't go in for the Americans. They fired 44 shots at Canada's net. There were so many times where it was hard to imagine how the puck never went it. 

Big breaks in big games. 

"That's part of the game," Poulin said. "You never know what's going to happen. They had great chances, sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't"

VIDEO | Sarah Nurse scores winner as Canada holds of USA

It seems to go Canada's way often at the Olympics. There was that moment in the gold-medal Sochi game when the puck slid toward an open Canadian net, only to bounce off the post. The Canadians then went down the ice and scored to force overtime before winning gold.

There was a penalty shot in this game, too — a rarity in Olympic hockey. Geneviève Lacasse denied American shooter Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

How was Lacasse feeling before the shot?

"I was smiling and excited," she said. "I love adrenaline and love that feeling. That feeling before a penalty shot is a great feeling."

'Something special'

Canada is looking to win a fifth consecutive women's gold medal. Meghan Agosta has been part of the last three. She's a veteran and scored the opening goal of the game against the Americans. 

It was her 16th goal for Canada at the Olympics, moving her into second all-time only behind Hayley Wickenheiser, who finished her storied career with 18.

"I thought it was a great game," Agosta said. "Do I think we have a lot more to give? Definitely. But we did some great things out there."

Agosta says this team is like a family. They all moved to Calgary in August and have been training together since then.

But she says there's nothing like a game against the U.S. to bring Team Canada together.

"This is the closest this team has ever been," she said. "I think we have something special here."

That "special" thing presents itself both on and off the ice.

"We have a lot speed, talent and skill on this team. And whether it's someone's first Olympics or fourth, we have the team to do it. We're a close family."