VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A sign visible almost the entire game in the first row read "Hockey is Canada's Game."
Undeniably, it is when it comes to the women's hockey, as Canada beat the United States 2-0 here at a raucous Canada Hockey Place to take the gold medal.
Canada scored both goals late in the first period, both from Marie-Philip Poulin, and then made it hold up thanks in large part to the stellar goaltending of Shannon Szabados.
It's the third straight gold medal for Canada in women's hockey since the United States won the first in 1998, and continued a recent upswing for the host country. On Wednesday, Canada had what many called its best day of the Olympics, taking a gold, two silvers and a bronze.
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Canada and the United States were unquestionably the top two teams here, advancing to the title game with ease, setting up a much-anticipated matchup.
The fans got their money's worth, standing throughout the final minutes yelling "Go, Canada, Go!" as the home won the gold, setting off a wild celebration in front of its net.
Canada took a 2-0 lead in the first period, both on goals by Poulin, who entered the game with just five points in the tournament.
The first goal came with just under seven minutes remaining and the second found the net with just under four.
The initial goal came shortly after Canada killed off a power play that had the United States with a two-player advantage for 1 minute, 20 seconds.
The U.S. had a 14-10 edge in shots in the second period as it came out more aggressively, and again also had a two-man advantage for 1:37. But the U.S. couldn't score against Szabados, and the Americans remained down 2-0 heading into the final period.
The United States continued to get some shots on goal in the third period, but Szabados stopped every one.
Canada finished with a 29-28 edge in shots on goal.
The United States had won its first four games in the tournament a combined 40-2, indicative of the lack of overall talent among the eight teams here.
But the Americans were the underdogs against a Canadian team that had beaten them seven of 10 times in the 2009-10 season, including the last six in a series of exhibition games heading into the Olympics.
The U.S. won the first gold medal in this sport in 1998 in Nagano, but has not won it since, losing the gold medal game to Canada in 2002 and in the semifinals to Sweden in 2006.