Quick Takes: USA vs. Canada

Barry Melrose breaks down Canada's 3-2 overtime win over the U.S. to capture its fourth consecutive women's hockey Olympic title.

SOCHI, Russia -- Gut-wrenching. After falling short of the gold medal in three straight Olympics, the United States was less than four minutes away from winning it for the first time since 1998 when the Canadians scored two late goals before winning in sudden death overtime 3-2 on Thursday.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Anne Schleper of the U.S. skates alone after Canada's comeback win in the gold medal game.

What it means: Heartbreak. From the moment this team was brought together last summer -- actually, from the moment the U.S. lost to the Canadians in Vancouver four years ago -- the Americans had pointed to victory on this night, against this team, as the only thing that mattered. With less than four minutes remaining, it looked inevitable that the Canadians' dominance at the Olympics would be over. And then, the Americans lost. It is the third time Canada has beaten the U.S. in the gold-medal game, and extends its Olympic winning streak to 20 games, a run that dates to the gold-medal game in 1998 in Nagano.

Killing me softly: The Americans killed five penalties in regulation but couldn't overcome the disadvantage in the extra period. With Jocelyne Lamoureux already in the box, Hilary Knight pulled Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser to the ice, sending Knight to the box as well. On the 4-3 advantage, Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin buried a shot past goalie Jessie Vetter to give Canada the gold.

Pass the defibrillator: With the Americans leading 2-0 with 3:26 to play, a shot by Canada's Brianne Jenner ricocheted off the right knee of American defender Kacey Bellamy and into the back of the U.S. net. The goal energized the arena and gave a boost of confidence to the Canadians. Bellamy returned to the bench with her head down. A few seconds later, with Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados pulled for an extra attacker, a U.S. chance to put the game away missed by inches when an empty-net shot clinked off the left post. With 54.6 seconds left, Poulin beat Meghan Duggan to a rebound, then flicked it past Vetter to tie the game and send it to overtime.

What's next: A lot of soul-searching. Despite losing to Canada by the same 3-2 score in the preliminaries on Feb. 12, the Americans came into this game ultra-confident that they had fixed their problems and were ready to defeat the other power in women's hockey when it mattered most. Coming that close to gold, only to have two bounces go the other way, simply won't be easy for the Americans to overcome emotionally.

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