On Golden Ponds: U.S. Still Can't Clear Canadian Hockey Hurdle

There is no joy in Sochi, USA Hockey has struck out.

After losing to Canada in both the men's and women's Olympic finals in 2010, they had a chance for revenge in 2014 in Sochi.

First up was the women's gold medal game on Thursday. Team USA let a two-goal lead slip away in the final minutes of the third period and eventually lost in overtime, 3-2.

Next was the men's semifinals on Friday, with Team USA hoping to revenge an overtime loss of their own four years earlier. But instead of revenge, it was more of the same, as Team Canada played flawless defense in a 1-0 win.

In the women's game, it was a crushing defeat because victory was within grasp, but the Americans couldn't finish the job.

In the men's game, while the final score was just 1-0, Canada began to dominate play in the second period and never looked back.

The Canadians were able to deny the speedy U.S. forwards sustained pressure in the offensive zone. When the Americans entered the zone, they were limited to one shot from the outside, and then either Canada goalie Carey Price covered the puck or the defense was able to push it back out of the zone. There were few rebounds given up and few Canadians out of position.

Canada forward Ryan Getzlaf credits Price for much of the victory.

"He controls the whole pace of the game," Getzlaf told NBC's Pierre McGuire. "When he eats pucks and swallows them and gets those faceoffs for us, (it) slows everything down."

Slowing down the pace was key. Team USA likes to play fast and like to control the puck down low in the offensive zone. That's what made them so effective in the Olympics. It's what led them to be the highest-scoring team in the tournament.

But against Canada they got zip. Zilch. Nothing.

"We had a tough time sustaining any pressure in their end," U.S. forward Ryan Callahan told McGuire. "They outnumbered us in their zone, came up with it quick and, as we expected, they were quick on transition."

Price, who got the shutout and quieted critics who didn't think he was a big-game goalie, called the effort of his team in front of him "relentless."

"We backchecked real hard tonight," he told McGuire. "We were winning battles on the right side of the puck and all over the place tonight."

For the second straight Olympic Games, Team Canada won the battles -- and won the war.

While the United States now may be considered a hockey superpower in hockey, Canada is still here to remind them that there is more work to be done if they want to be the best in the world.

"There's no question they're a talented group," Callahan told McGuire. "You see the skill they have and the way they play. It's a tough one to take."

Winning gold medals is a goal for the United States. For Canada, however, it's expected.

"We enjoy ourselves out there, and obviously," Getzlaf said with a smile, "we love winning."

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