Marie-Philip Poulin scored two goals, Shannon Szabados made 28 saves, and Canada rolled through its American rivals 2-0 to win the gold medal in women's hockey for the third straight Olympics on Thursday night in front of a raucous crowd ringing cowbells and frantically waving thousands of maple leaf flags.
After Poulin's first-period scores, the Canadians dominated every aspect of the game, earning their 15th straight Olympic win.
"I looked up in the stands and saw a sign that said, 'Proud to be Canadian,' and that's what I am today," Szabados said. "My teammates were unbelievable today. We played a great game."
Earlier, Finland won the bronze, beating Sweden 3-2 in overtime.
Canada remained unbeaten at the Olympics since 1998, when the Americans won the first women's gold. It also beat the Americans for the gold in 2002.
It kept nearly the entire game in the Americans' end, outpassing, outshooting and outworking the only team with a chance of standing up to it.
Several Americans were in tears after the game, including four-time Olympians Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Potter, who had her two children on the ice with her for the medal presentation.
"When you give your whole life to something and you come up short, as a team, it's just awful," Ruggiero said, choking back tears. "It's a little different than playing on the men's side. You really give your life to it. You make lots of sacrifices to win the gold medal."
Some debate the viability of an Olympic sport with two such dominant powers. The Canadians and Americans beat everyone else by a combined 86-4 at this tournament.
International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said he isn't ready to banish the sport. He said the IOC will give it four to eight more years to build depth. "We cannot continue without improvement. There is an improvement in the number of nations, and we want to see this wider," Rogge said. "There is no doubt that in the future women's hockey will be a hit."
Coaches from other nations are adamant that they've been working to close the competitive gap, but they need resources — chiefly, dollars — to catch up.
"The North American teams' sports federations have eight times Sweden's budget for women's hockey," Sweden coach Peter Elander said after his team's loss. "They have twice as many days together as we do. The finances for all teams have to be the same. … If you want to have a close tournament in Sochi (in 2014), have (comparable) national programs in all countries."
In the gold-medal game, Canada got two first-period goals from Poulin, a super-speedy 18-year-old forward from Quebec who claims she felt no Olympic pressure. Szabados capped her first Olympics with flawless netminding. "Szabados played out of her mind," U.S. forward Monique Lamoureux said.
Jessie Vetter made 27 saves for the Americans, whose potent power play, which produced 13 goals in the previous four games, went 0-for-6. Canada consistently won most of the battles in a physical, grinding game.
"We commit. We work hard," said Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympian. "It's up to the rest of the world to catch up."
First Period—1, Canada, Marie-Philip Poulin (Jennifer Botterill), 13:55. 2, Canada, Marie-Philip Poulin (Meghan Agosta), 16:50. Penalties—Jenny Potter, United States (Hooking), 3:49; Lisa Chesson, United States (Hooking), 8:18; Gina Kingsbury, Canada (Body Checking), 10:00; Catherine Ward, Canada (Interference), 11:21; Jayna Hefford, Canada (Slashing), 16:11; Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej, United States (Hooking), 16:47.
Second Period—No scoring. Penalties—Jayna Hefford, Canada (Delaying the Game), 2:35; Becky Kellar, Canada (Delaying the Game), 2:58; Caitlin Cahow, United States (Hooking), 10:01; Angela Ruggiero, United States (Interference), 14:49; Jayna Hefford, Canada (Diving), 16:56.
Third Period—No scoring. Penalties—No penalties.
Shots on Goal—Canada 8-10-11—29. United States 7-14-7—28. Goalies—Canada, Shannon Szabados. United States, Jessie Vetter.