2014 Winter Olympics: USA vs. Canada Semifinal Hockey Recap

Pool

Jamie Benn provides the dagger to the heart and an entertaining back and forth game ends with a score of 1-0, with the USA having to settle for a chance at bronze tomorrow.

Call it the Jamie Benn show. The Dallas Stars' forward had the game-winning goal, indeed the only goal, for Canada early in the second period. Maybe that's some small consolation for us Stars fans anyway...

As for the rest of the game, I'm still surprised the score wound up only 1-0. Especially after the start to the game, although it did tighten up as the game wore on. No small credit of course is due to the goaltenders, Carey Price with 31 saves in the game, and Jonathan Quick with 36 of his own, but one too few for Team USA. Fingers will be pointed at the USA powerplay, which had 3 opportunities, but failed to even generate significant chances on them. Canada on the other hand were able to gain momentum from their powerplays, and began to control play as the game progressed. But seriously, what's with Canada's inability to score? Seven goals in five games for the Canadian forwards. And Jamie Benn has two of them.

We love you Jamie Benn, but, sigh...

Team USA will face Finland in the bronze medal match tomorrow, while Canada takes on Sweden for all the marbles on Sunday.

First Period

A very up-tempo start to the game, with both teams trading chances early, and both Jonathan Quick and Carey Price tested multiple times.

The chances were fast and furious through the first half of the period. A trailing Carlson gliding open into the slot having a good look at Price, the USA with a lot of traffic in front of the Canadian net, but unable to capitalize, Toews and Kane trading chances (isn't that odd to hear) with a shot from Toews blocked by Quick and leading to a long outlet pass that Kane couldn't quite settle, a Kunitz partial breakaway with Orpik struggling to get back, drop to Bergeron for a good chance, Bergeron stealing the puck from McDonagh off a faceoff won by the US and nearly sneaking it by Quick...

Shots stayed even for the first ten minutes, until halfway through the period Ryan Suter was called for slashing, giving Canada the first powerplay of the game. Crosby and Carter both had good chances on the man advantage, and, despite not scoring, Canada began to carry the play following the powerplay.

In hindsight, maybe call that powerplay the turning point of the game, when we went from strong back and forth play to a Canadian edge.

Even when Joe Pavelski drew a holding call on Patrick Marleau with 4 minutes left in the period the USA were unable to generate much. And by not much I mean the Americans struggled to enter the zone cleanly and seemed to give up more chances shorthanded than they generated themselves. Sound familiar Stars fans?

The end of the period showed a marked slowing down of play from the frenetic pace of the opening.

Second Period

Benn scores, Benn scores!

Damn it.

But seriously, it was beautiful. Benn made a backhand pass from the right circle, finding Bouwmeester on the left point, who made a hard pass that found Benn's stick, crashing the net hard. At least that's some consolation, right America? Or Dallas anyway.

The USA had a powerplay shortly after the Benn goal, but again failed to generate much, and the story was the same later in the period when a US powerplay, the result of Kunitz getting a little too intimate with Quick, led to sustained zone time, but very few chances on Price.

In fact, the game started to tilt heavily in Canada's favour, or more specifically, Benn's. The Benn line had multiple chances for Canada, and the period ended with Canada outshooting the USA 27-22.

Third Period

A very dominant opening to the third by Canada sort of set the tone for the third period. The USA had their chances, the most notable happening 5 minute in with Kessel setting up van Riemsdyk in close.

Midway through the period Phil Kessel went to the box, but a couple of big blocks by Callahan on the penalty kill kept the USA in the game.

Soon after the powerplay, Kunitz had an amazing chance to give Canada some breathing room, with a shot in close blocked by the pad of Quick and the rebound sent just wide off the backhand.

The USA began pushing towards the end of the game, but the attack felt disjointed, with Canada counterattacking on a 2-on-1 that was well stopped by Carlson, sliding to take away the pass and break up the play.

Indeed, America struggled to maintain any consistency as they pushed for the equalizer. With two minutes remaining the USA were unable to even bring the puck cleanly into the Canadian zone, and so Quick was pinned to his net until there was only one minute on the clock.

Did the US generate a shot with the empty net? I don't think so. Canada closed the defensive zone off and time wound down with the puck tied up behind Carey Price's net.

So it goes...

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