Though she only turns 23 in March, Marie-Philip Poulin has shown a penchant for showing up at the biggest moments.
Poulin scored the game-tying goal with 55 seconds left in regulation, then added the golden goal at 8:10 of overtime off a Laura Fortino pass to lift Team Canada to their fourth straight Olympic women’s hockey gold medal with a 3-2, come-from-behind victory over Team USA.
Brianne Jenner also scored for Canada, who were outplayed by the Americans for most of the game, their defensive schemes stifling the Canadian forwards and preventing quality chances.
Shannon Szabados was a star in the Canadian net, with the majority of her 27 saves coming on high-quality chances.
Meanwhile, Jessie Vetter made 28 stops for the Americans, while captain Meghan Duggan and Alex Carpenter scored.
The win gives Canada 20 straight Olympic victories, though this fourth gold didn’t come nearly as easily as the others.
Former NHL player Kevin Dineen took over as Team Canada’s head coach in December after Dan Church resigned, and he needed to learn the female game on the fly.
Defenceman Meaghan Mikkelson, sister of Brendan Mikkelson, played in the gold medal game with a broken hand.
Their usual offensive stars in five-time Olympians Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford didn’t have their best tournaments.
Still, they pulled through.
Szabados kept the Canadians in it early with an 11-save first period, including key saves on an American power play two minutes into the game.
One of her biggest saves came from a shot from the point from Anne Schleper that got through traffic and briefly bounced around the goal before controlling it.
At the other end, Vetter wasn’t tested a whole lot, but she had to be sharp to stop Jennifer Wakefield after American defenceman Megan Bozek bobbled the puck in front of her net late in the period.
Though Canada outshot the Americans 8-5, the second period featured a similar theme of the Americans controlling the play.
The Americans opened the scoring midway through the second. Off a turnover from defenceman Catherine Ward, Jocelyne Lamoureux broke into the Canadian zone. The puck came out to Duggan, who fired through a screen and beat Szabados on the glove side to take a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
The Americans extended their lead on an early third-period power play, as Hilary Knight found Carpenter, the daughter of former NHL player Bob Carpenter, with a backdoor pass to make it 2-0.
Knight and Carpenter were at it again midway through the period, going in on a 2-on-1. However, Szabados withstood Carpenter banging away at the puck in the crease to prevent the Americans from going up three.
American youngsters Kendall Coyne and Brianna Decker had two quality chances back-to-back a few minutes later, but once again, Szabados stood tall in the Canadian net.
Then, the Canadians woke up.
Jenner cut the lead to one with 3:26 left in the third, cutting in off the left wing and taking a shot that went off American defenceman Kacey Bellamy and past Vetter for her first Olympic point.
The United States nearly won it in regulation, as a linesman blocked Ward out at the American blue line, allowing the Americans to clear the puck toward an empty Canadian net.
The puck hit the post, and the Canadians forced a faceoff in the American end.
That set the stage for Poulin, who scored both goals in the 2010 gold medal game, to tie the game with 55 seconds left and Szabados on the bench. Rebecca Johnston found Poulin from the corner, and she took it from her backhand to the forehand to beat a sprawling Vetter on the blocker side to send the game to overtime, where Poulin immortalized herself in Canadian hockey history.
Game Notes: The IIHF tournament all-stars were Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling, defencemen Megan Bozek (USA) and Jenni Hiirikoski (FIN), along with forwards Amanda Kessel (USA), Meghan Agosta-Marciano (CAN), and Hilary Knight (USA). (Source: IIHF Twitter account) … Both teams scored once in five opportunities. … The Americans held a narrow 35-33 edge in faceoffs.