SOCHI, Russia — Sometimes, workmanlike is good enough.
Four years after they played for the gold medal in one of the best hockey games ever, the United States and Canada wound up separated by a single goal again at the Olympics. But make no mistake, this 1-0 semifinal win by Canada on Friday wasn't nearly as close.
Credit the Canadians for that. They took the Americans' heart early, used superior depth to pour wave after wave into the attacking zone and turned the game into a grind.
"They came at us with 20 guys," U.S. coach Dan Bylsma of the Penguins said. "They came at us with speed, and they came at us for 60 minutes, and that was a fast game. That was as fast a game as I've ever been a part of.
"There was lots of speed out there, up and down the ice, and we weren't able to counter that as much as we'd like."
Though the defending champion Canadians had no signature moments in the game and never pulled away, they also never appeared seriously threatened. U.S. and Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, also a member of the 2010 team that lost the gold-medal heartbreaker 3-2 in overtime, didn't mince words as to why.
"We didn't show up to play, and it's kind of frustrating," Suter said. "They're a good team. We sat back; we were passive. You can't play scared. I thought we sat on our heels and just didn't take it to them at all. We had motivation. We just didn't take it on the ice."
Asked which loss hurt more, this one or the 2010 loss, Suter replied: "This one. We didn't show up to play."
Canada advanced to the gold-medal match Sunday against Sweden, which beat Finland 2-1 in the other semifinal.
The Canadians, 5-0 in Sochi, are a win away from their third gold in four Olympics, and they're guaranteed their first medal outside North America in 20 years.
The Americans, who lost their first game of the tournament, play Finland for the bronze today.
The Canadians haven't trailed in these Games, and their stifling defense has allowed just three goals in their five games. They clamped down on an American offense that had scored 19 goals in their first four games.
"We didn't score a lot of goals, but we didn't have to," Canadian and Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews said. "The next game will follow that work ethic. We can check, we can work our tails off, and we can make things real tough for the other team."
Said U.S. forward Patrick Kane, Toews' Chicago teammate and another 2010 Olympian, "They probably played the way we wanted to. That's what hurts."
Canada scored 1:41 into the second period during a shift by the Stars' Jamie Benn and Ducks teammates Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Benn got the puck outside to Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who threaded a pass into the slot for Benn's deflection past U.S. and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
"Obviously, we knew it was going to be a tight match going in," Benn said. "We found a way to get one, our team played great team defense, and our goalie shut the door."
Goalie Carey Price of the Canadiens made 31 saves for the shutout.
"I've got a lot of confidence in the group in front of me," Price said. "They feel comfortable being uncomfortable."
The Lightning's Marty St. Louis dressed for the game but didn't get any ice time.
Quick stopped 36 shots in a strong performance for the Americans, who had trailed for just 7:19 at the Games before Benn's goal.
"Our goaltender was our best player," Bylsma said.
The Americans never looked at ease. Led by captain Zach Parise of the Wild, who had eight shots, they had ample scoring chances, but the Canadians did not give up many second chances, clearing the puck after Price made the initial save.
On the rare occasion when they failed to sweep the puck out of harm's way, no American was there to pounce on the rebound.
"We did not get enough traffic in front of their goals and find second chances to score," said U.S. and Blues forward David Backes.
The Americans were without defenseman Paul Martin of the Penguins, who hurt his right hand in the quarterfinal win against the Czech Republic and won't be available today for Finland. Finland was without the Bruins' Tuukka Rask in goal against Sweden because of an illness. Lightning defenseman Sami Salo played 16:42, had four shots and was minus-1.
No U.S. men's team has won a medal in Games played outside North America since the 1972 team took silver in Sapporo, Japan.
"It's obviously a sick feeling that we didn't get the job done (Friday)," Backes said, "but we've got one more chance to … make this trip worth it."
First Period—No scoring. Penalties—Ryan Suter, United States (holding the stick); Patrick Marleau, Canada (holding).
Second Period—1, Canada, Jamie Benn (Jay Bouwmeester), 1:41. Penalties—Ryan Getzlaf, Canada (high sticking); Chris Kunitz, Canada (slashing).
Third Period—No scoring. Penalties—Phil Kessel, United States (hooking).
Shots on Goal—Canada 16-12-9—37. United States 11-11-9—31.
Goalies—Canada, Carey Price. United States, Jonathan Quick.
Referee—Brad Meier, United States; Kelly Sutherland, Canada. Linesmen—Ivan Dedioulia, Belarus; Greg Devorski, Canada; Mikhail Buturlin, Russia; Roman Gofman, Russia.
First Period—No scoring. Penalties—Alexander Steen, Sweden (hooking); Patrik Berglund, Sweden (roughing); Niklas Kronwall, Sweden (interference).
Second Period—1, Finland, Olli Jokinen (Sami Vatanen), 6:17. 2, Sweden, Loui Eriksson (Jonathan Ericsson, Nicklas Backstrom), 11:39. 3, Sweden, Erik Karlsson (Alexander Steen, Daniel Sedin), 16:26 (pp). Penalties—Mikael Granlund, Finland (charging); Daniel Alfredsson, Sweden (cross-checking); Olli Jokinen, Finland (Tripping).
Third Period—No scoring. Penalties—Daniel Sedin, Sweden (holding).
Shots on Goal—Finland 10-8-8—26. Sweden 13-9-3—25.
Goalies—Finland, Kari Lehtonen. Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist.
Referee—Konstantin Olenin, Russia; Tim Peel, United States. Linesmen—Derek Amell, Canada; Chris Carlson, Canada; Alexander Sergeyev, Russia; Alexey Vasilyev, Russia.