SOCHI, Russia — For the rematch, Canada skipped the overtime and shelved the theatrics.
One slick goal and 60 minutes of stifling defensive hockey kept the Canadians firmly on top of the U.S. and moved them to the brink of gold again.
Jamie Benn scored in the second period, Carey Price made 31 saves, and Canada beat the United States 1-0 Friday night in the semifinals of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament.
Canada advanced to the gold-medal match Sunday against Sweden, which beat Finland 2-1 in the earlier semifinal at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
With an unbeaten run through Sochi, the Canadians are a win away from their third gold medal in four Olympics, and they’re guaranteed their first medals outside North America in 20 years.
Although it was fast-paced and well-played, this win had none of the flair of Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal to beat the U.S. four years ago. The Canadians didn’t care.
“We didn’t score a lot of goals, but we didn’t have to,” Canada 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.”
After its first loss in Sochi, the U.S. will face Finland for bronze on Saturday. The Americans were hoping for redemption from their gut-wrenching defeat in 2010, but they only got a businesslike reminder of Canada’s clout.
“We didn’t show up to play,” U.S. defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It’s too bad. ... 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.”
Indeed, the defending Olympic champions left little doubt about their North American hockey dominance in a rematch of the finale of the Vancouver Games. Although the Canadians had no signature moments and never pulled away, they also never appeared seriously threatened.