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Canada doubles up on rival U.S. to complete perfect round robin in women’s hockey

Once again, it was Marie-Philip Poulin delivering the defining moment of a Canadian women’s hockey triumph over the U.S.

Canada’s Captain Clutch scored on a short-handed penalty shot, Brianne Jenner added a pair and goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens made a whopping 51 saves in a 4-2 victory to clinch the top spot in Group A on Tuesday at the Beijing Olympics.

The win means Canada finishes the preliminary round at 4-0, having outscored its opponents 33-5. The Americans enter the knockout rounds as the second seed.

But head coach Troy Ryan remains focused on what’s ahead.

“I’d always rather be on this side of it, but history says it doesn’t necessarily mean a lot. We are happy that we continue to gain confidence. We also like the fact that we didn’t play our best but still found a way to win.”

Barring a major upset, the sides will meet again in the gold-medal game on Feb. 16 at 11:10 p.m. ET at the Wukesong Sports Centre.

That’s when true Olympic heroes will be made.

But the latest goal from Poulin, who’s scored so many for Canada since her 2010 Olympic debut counting two gold-medal clinchers, shouldn’t be completely forgotten.

It was the first penalty-shot marker in Olympic women’s hockey history. And it also may have served as a bit of redemption for the 30-year-old, who was stopped by American goalie Maddie Rooney with the game on her stick in the shootout of the 2018 Olympic final.

This time, Poulin made no mistakes, lifting the puck over Rooney’s pad and inside the left post while moving in the opposite direction.

“You have one of the top players in the world going in on a penalty shot, so you get pretty excited,” Desbiens told The Canadian Press. “She comes up clutch for us day in and day out and when it matters, that’s when she’s at her best. We saw that again today.”

The goal, Poulin’s second of the tournament, gave Canada its first two-goal cushion of the game during a second-period that saw multiple momentum swings.

The Americans got on the board first in the wild frame with a pair of goals just over two minutes apart to take a 2-1 lead. After Dani Cameranesi pounced on a rebound to equalize the game at one, Alex Carpenter put one past Desbiens on the power play to give the U.S. its lone lead.

However, it didn’t last long. Twenty-six seconds later, Jenner once again crashed the net, this time taking a slick feed from forward Sarah Nurse and depositing it into the back of the net.

About two-and-a-half minutes after that, Jamie Lee Rattray restored the Canadian lead, tucking one past Rooney off a beautiful assist from emerging star Sarah Fillier from behind the net.

A penalty against Canadian defender Jocelyne Larocque provided some tense moments soon after, but in the dying seconds of the kill, Poulin burst in between two American defenders for a breakaway. When one of them, Cayla Barnes, hooked Poulin just after she passed the blue line, the Canadians were awarded a penalty shot.

Poulin delivered, and it was curtains from there.

The Canadians had Desbiens to thank for the game to even get to that point. Of the netminder’s 51 saves, 16 came during a perfect first period in which Canada managed just four shots of its own.

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