Canada wins first showdown, defeats U.S. 2-1

Ice Hockey- Winter Olympics Day 4

No medal will be on the line Thursday.

It could have been a mere preview of the battle for gold expected to come next week.

Not in the first period, when the US caught Canada on a change and Hilary Knight found herself one-on-one with Canadian goalie Genevieve Lacasse only to shoot the puck right into Lacasse's chest. Or later in the second when Brianna Decker rifled a slapshot past Lacasse that ricocheted off the outside of the post. Canada eventually won in overtime on a goal by Poulin.

Beating the world champions made Canada the top seed for Monday's semi-finals with the Americans second as both await Saturday quarter-final winners from among Switzerland, Finland, Sweden and the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation.

"It's a rivalry", usa coach Robb Stauber said of the physical play.

"It's a rivalry. What else would anybody expect but exactly that", he said.

The Americans have had the upper hand in recent World Championships but have not been able to stop Canada's Olympic dominance.

"She played outstanding for us", Schuler said. "I scored one goal and I was super happy to score a goal on my birthday".

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In fact, it's nearly exactly 20 years to the day since they last lost at the Games - the gold-medal game on February 17, 1998 in Nagano, a 3-1 victory for the Americans in the first-ever women's Olympic women's hockey championship. The Americans won in 1998 when women's hockey joined the Olympics, while Canada is looking for a fifth straight title. "It's an incredible ...when the two teams play well you can't not help but love watching it".

Canada struck early with Daoust intercepting a Finnish clearance for a 2-on-1 opportunity.

Her husband Bob Bellamy adds: "A lot of the Canadian girls they go to the USA colleges so a lot of these girls play together...they're on the same teams together so they know one another really well. Absolutely nothing to do with our future". That much was certain on Wednesday, when the United States took a total of 12 penalty minutes to Canada's eight. Stauber said he was happy with outshooting an opponent almost 2-to-1 for a third straight time in these games, believing a goalie will break under the flurry.

"We're going to worry about the things that we think are going to give us the best chance of winning and that's the kind of performance we had tonight".

The Canadians didn't sound too impressed.

"I just wanted to play the best I could so I could remember that", says Agosta. The official immediately signaled no goal. Instead, Wickenheiser scored the team's second shorthanded goal a few minutes later and as time expired on the period Agosta deked the goaltender on the breakaway to make it 7-0. It had been a physical, chippy, hard-fought game that would end with the puck on the ice, just inches in front of the Canadian goal. Forward Laura Stacey appeared to enter the offensive zone before the puck crossed the blue line, but United States of America head coach Robb Stauber elected not to challenge.

The Canadians thought they had a third with 4.5 seconds remaining in the period when a shot from Rebecca Johnston seemed to trickle in, with Natalie Spooner jabbing away from the edge of the crease for good measure. The United States, Olympic Athletes from Russia, Slovenia and Slovakia are in Group B; and Sweden, Finland, Norway and Germany find themselves in Group C. Kendal Coyne agreed, suggesting the USA would take that game 10 times out of 10.

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