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Golden moment: Canada beats U.S. 3-2 to capture women’s hockey Olympic crown

Captain Poulin scores a pair for the champions

Who else but Marie-Philip Poulin?

The big-time performer who has made a career of thriving on hockey’s biggest stages did it again Thursday in Beijing, helping Canada reclaim Olympic women’s hockey gold against its arch rival.

Poulin led Canada with two goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in a 3-2 win over the United States in the gold-medal game.

The Canadian captain scored in a fourth straight Olympic final.

“It’s just so good. It’s a great feeling,” Poulin said. “It was one hell of an effort.”

The win in Beijing was especially sweet for Canada’s 13 returning players who felt heartbreak in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, losing 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout.

“This is redemption,” Poulin said.

Canada’s fourth gold of the Games capped a dominant tournament for the Canadian women’s hockey team. The players rewrote the Olympic hockey record book in multiple categories in Beijing, starting with 57 tournament goals surpassing the 44 of their 2010 predecessors.

Claire Thompson, Sarah Nurse and tournament MVP Brianne Jenner put together strong individual performances.

“This group is very special,” Poulin said. “This group has been putting the work in since 2018.

“We’ve been having that motivation with that silver medal. But it’s teamwork, it’s one team – from staff to players – and it was huge today.”

Hilary Knight and Amanda Kessel scored for the Americans. Sarah Nurse contributed a goal and an assist for Canada, with goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens making 38 saves for the victory.

Canada believed they had opened the scoring 7:15 into the first period, with Natalie Spooner banging home a rebound. But the goal was waved off after an offside challenge.

Just 35 seconds later, Nurse redirected a shot home to give Canada a 1-0 lead.

Captain Poulin made it 2-0 later in the frame, with an unassisted goal off a long shot that eluded American netminder Alex Cavallini.

Poulin has seven goals in four Olympic final games and her second goal stood up as the winner. She also scored the winning goal in the 2010 and 2014 gold-medal games against the Americans. She is the only hockey player to ever score in four different Olympic gold-medal matches.

She added her second goal in the middle period to up Canada’s lead to 3-0 before Knight scored a late short-handed goal to make it 3-1.

Nurse assisted on Poulin’s second goal and broke the Olympic record for points with 18. Longtime Canadian great Hayley Wickenheiser set the mark previous mark at 17 in 2006, which Poulin has now matched in Beijing.

In the third, Desbiens (who made 51 saves in a 4-2 round-robin win over the Americans) stood strong as Canada put the finishing touches on their gold-medal performance. With Poulin in the box serving a late penalty, Kessel scored with 12.5 seconds left to make it 3-2 but Canada was able to hang on.

Canada and the U.S. have met in five of the past six Olympic women’s hockey finals.

READ MORE: Sweden knocks Canadian men’s hockey team out of Olympic medal contention

— with a file from Black Press

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