Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - In what very well could have been a preview of the gold medal game, the Canadian women's hockey team won for an 18th straight time in Olympic play, as they rallied to beat the United States, 3-2.
Canada, of course, has won the last three gold medals, while the U.S. has captured four of the last five world championships. In fact, since the first IIHF women's world championships was held in 1990, there have been 19 tournaments (world championships and Olympics combined) and only once did the top-two finishers include a country other than Canada and the U.S.
These are the two best teams in women's hockey. And it showed on Wednesday in the rematch of the gold medal game from the Vancouver Games.
Hilary Knight lit the lamp late in the second period to give the U.S. the lead, but Canada, which hasn't lost in the Olympics since falling to the Americans in the gold medal game in Nagano back in 1998, scored twice in the third period to move to a perfect 3-0 in Group A play of the Sochi Games.
It didn't come easy for Canada, as the U.S. pulled within one with its goalie on the bench and just over a minute to play, then had a power play for the final 30 seconds of the contest.
Canada finally hit the scoreboard with a power-play tally 2:21 into the third period. After a flurry in front of the net, Haley Wickenheiser slid a pass over to Meghan Agosta, who wristed a shot past Jessie Vetter.
Wickenheiser then gave Canada the lead less than two minutes later, as she skated in along the right boards and fired a shot towards Vetter, who was unable to make the save, as the puck trickled past her into the net.
At first it appeared as if a whistle was blown, which would have negated the goal, but after a review the goal would stand and the Canadians led 2-1.
Agosta then gave Canada even more of a cushion with a breakaway goal with 5:05 remaining to put it up 3-1.
Knight had given the Americans the lead late in the second period on a deflection from the slot from an Anne Schleper shot past the right blocker of Charline Labonte.
It was the first goal that Canada had allowed in these Games.
The U.S. found the net again with 1:05 remaining. After Canada mishandled the puck in front, Schleper corralled the loose puck and buried it past Labonte to pull the Americans within one.
Canada was then called for having too many skaters on the ice, but the U.S. failed to capitalize.
The United States fell to 2-1 with the loss.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Jenni Hiirikoski scored at 2:38 of overtime to lift Finland to a 4-3 victory over Switzerland.
The Finns blew leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the contest, but Hiirikoski came through in OT to deliver the win.
Linda Valimaki threaded a pass from above the right circle and found Hiirikoski cutting towards goal. Hiirikoski lunged at the puck and was able to deflect it past the glove hand of Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling.
Hiirikoski and Michelle Karvinen each had two goals for Finland, while Noora Raty made 24 saves for the win. Schelling stopped 30-of-34 shots in the loss for Switzerland, which received goals from Stefanie Marty, Romy Eggimann and Phoebe Stanz.
Finland jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Hiirikoski and Karvinen. The Swiss rallied to tie the score at 2-2 on second-period goals from Eggimann and Stanz, but the Finns regained the lead on Karvinen's second goal of the game later in the period.
Marty tied it at 3-3 with just 3:35 remaining in regulation before the Swiss fell in OT.
Finland picked up its first win of the 2014 Olympics after losing its earlier tests against the United States and Canada. Switzerland remained at the bottom of the Group A standings, losing for the third time in three tries at the Sochi Games.