SOCHI, Russia (USA TODAY) -- Canada made it two-for-two over the USA in hockey supremacy. A day after Canada's women rallied to beat the USA in overtime, Canada's men downed the Americans 1-0.
What it means: Canada goes to the gold medal game against Sweden on Sunday. The USA will play Finland for the bronze medal on Saturday. The Canadians will be trying to win their third gold medal over the past four Olympic Games. Since NHL started allowing its players to compete in the Olympics in 1998, the Czechs and Swedes have captured one gold medal and Canada has won two. The Americans will be trying to win their third men's hockey medal over the past four Olympic Games. They won silver medals in 2002 in Salt Lake and 2010 in Vancouver.
Game-changer: At 1:14 of the second period, Canada's Jamie Benn scored on a redirection of a perfectly executed pass by defenseman Jay Bouwmeester from the point on the power play. You could sense a brief sag by the Americans and energy surge by Canada because players on both teams were playing as if one goal might decide this game. Just like they were in 2010, USA and Canada are relatively even in their ability to put together a quality team.
The difference-maker: Canadian goalie Carey Price. Coming into the Olympics, one of the big questions about Team Canada was whether its goaltending was good enough. Price answered that with a 31-save performance in what was the most important game of his career. He was particularly sharp in the first period when he made a sizzling glove save against defenseman John Carlson cruising in from the slot. He also stood his ground against Zach Parise's drive to the net. With three minutes to go in the second period, he made a key stop against Paul Stastny, who had multiple whacks at the puck near the post.
Underlying causes: The Americans undoubtedly missed defenseman Paul Martin, who is out of the tournament with a hand injury. Martin had been the team's No. 3 defenseman in minutes played. Justin Faulk was inserted into the lineup, but he didn't truly replace Martin. Dan Bylsma adjusted everyone's minutes upward. The Americans also went 0-for-3 on the power play. At the first meeting of the selection committee last August, the U.S. coaches said their research showed that teams that performed well on special teams did well in the tournament.
Deserved better: The Americans expected to be strong in net, and they were in this tournament and this game. Jonathan Quick gave his team every chance to win with his stellar play. At one point, Sidney Crosby drove the net and drove a shot off Quick's mask. Quick also robbed Benn on a drive from the right wing circle.
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