SOCHI, Russia -- Megan Agosta scored twice and assisted on Hayley Wickenheiser's goal to lead Canada to a 3-2 victory over the United States on Wednesday in a tense preview of the expected gold medal match.
Agosta scored in the second period to
tie the game 1-1 and then Canada
added the go-ahead goal 93 seconds later on a shot that U.S. goalie Jesse
Vetter seemed to have stopped, drawing a whistle from referee Anna Eskola of
Finland. But the puck trickled through Vetter's pads and over the goal line.
CBSSports.com hockey writer Brian Stubits saw the play differently.
"The whistle definitely did blow before the puck went in and that's not much of a question," Stubits writes. "Certainly it could be argued and deserves to be pointed out, the play probably shouldn't have been blown dead in the first place but we see it all the time in the NHL. If the referees lose sight of the puck, the whistle has to blow and the play is dead."
Charline Labonte made 25 saves for Canada.
Hilary Knight scored and Vetter
stopped 28 shots for the United States.
"It wasn't a great feeling and it's still a feeling that haunts a bunch of us today and it's definitely in the back of our minds that we don't want to feel that way again," Knight said.
Down 3-1, the Americans pulled the goalie with more than two minutes left and cut the deficit to one on Anne Schleper's goal. A penalty for too many players on the ice with 31 seconds left gave the Americans a 6-on-4 advantage, but a final flurry couldn't bring them the tying goal.Both teams had already clinched spots in the semifinals, but Canada enters the playoffs as the top seed.
It's the fifth time the teams have met in the Olympics, but the first since women's hockey was added to the Winter Games in 1998 that they have played in the preliminary round. The Americans beat Canada twice that year - including the gold medal game - but it's been Canada ever since, at least in the Olympics.
In addition to leading their southern neighbors 3-1 in Olympic gold medals, Canada has 10 world championships to five for the United States. No other country has won one.
The Americans have won five of the
last seven, though, including last year's in Ottawa. In a pre-Olympic tuneup
tour, the Canadians won three straight but then lost four in a row in the
turmoil following coach Dan Church's surprise December resignation. He was
replaced by former NHL player and coach Kevin Dineen.
The fans shouted dueling chants of "Ca-na-da!" and "U-S-A!" And none of the players on the bench sat down, either standing to cheer on their teammates or leaning over the boards.
The United States finally scored when Schleper's wrist shot was tipped by Knight into the net. But Canada tied it with a power-play goal of its own, making it 1-1 in the third period when Agosta parked on the right side of the net and waited for the pass from Wickenheiser.
The Canadians celebrated a second goal just 93 seconds later, then Agosta scored on a breakaway to make it 3-1.