Canada to play for second straight gold after blanking U.S.
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Jamie Benn supplied the lone goal of the contest at 1:41 of the second period, and Canada earned the right to defend its gold medal thanks to a 1-0 decision over Team USA in Friday's semifinal of the Sochi Olympics.
Carey Price turned aside all 31 shots he faced for the Canadians, who will take on Sweden in Sunday's title contest. The Swedes advanced earlier Friday with a 2-1 victory over Finland.
Canada, which topped the U.S. in a memorable overtime contest four years ago in Vancouver to claim gold, reached the Olympic final for the fifth time since 1992.
Jonathan Quick made 36 saves for the Americans, who must regroup quickly for a matchup with the Finns in Saturday's bronze medal tilt.
The United States, which has a checkered history on the international stage, suffered its first shutout loss in the Olympics since falling 5-0 to Czechoslovakia on Feb. 8, 1976.
Quick, the LA Kings' starting goaltender, was beaten only once. Jay Bouwmeester unleashed a low, hard shot from the left point which skittered into the slot and was redirected home by Benn for the winning margin.
Canada improved to 4-1 in Olympic action against its southern neighbors since NHL players began competing in 1998.
USA defenseman John Carlson released the first quality chance for either side at the six-minute mark of the scoreless opening period, but Price stayed put in his crease to glove down the rising shot with traffic sliding in to his right.
Quick was sharp with 16 saves in the game's initial 20 minutes, while Price was good on 11 shots. Both nations misfired on their respective power-play chances.
Following Benn's marker, the Americans failed to convert two subsequent power- play opportunities, and couldn't dent Price on 11 more shots during the middle frame. Quick was equal to the other 11 pucks he faced to keep it a one-goal margin.
Canada couldn't expand its edge on a hooking call to Phil Kessel just before the midway point of the third period, but its defense did an expert job keeping its foes away from the middle of the ice.
Chris Kunitz had a golden opportunity to expand the Canadians' lead when he was left alone in front of Quick, but pushed his rebound try wide of the far side with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
Due to Canadian forechecking pressure, Quick wasn't summoned to the bench for an extra attacker until less than a minute remained, and the Americans couldn't reward his effort with an equalizer.