Before the Olympics started, the only thing holding Team Canada back from being the overwhelming favorite in men's hockey was its goaltending.
On Friday in the semifinals against Team USA, goalie Carey Price answered all those questions.
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Price was brilliant with 31 saves in Canada's 1-0 win that sent the Canadians into Sunday's gold medal game against Sweden.
In hockey, they call it one and done. That was the story for the Americans for most of the game. They couldn't sustain any pressure offensively and there were no second chances against Price and a defense that was led by Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo.
Canada's defense has allowed just 3 goals in five games.
"We didn't really create much offense," Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane told reporters. "On the chances we did have, their goalie made some good saves. It's a little disappointing. I think everyone expected a tight-checking game, but to say we would have gotten shut out, I don't think anyone would have thought that."
U.S. coach Dan Bylsma was amazed at the pace of the game.
"It was up and down the ice," said Bylsma. "We weren't able to counter that as much as we'd like. That was as fast a game I've ever been part of."
Price's performance prompted Canada backup Roberto Luongo to tweet after the game: "Jesus Price."
"We just wanted to stick to our systems," Keith said. "They've got a lot of speed, especially on their top two lines. I thought we did a good job of staying on top of them and taking that speed away."
Jamie Benn scored the only goal while playing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry that was terrific.
"I thought our forwards really skated," Canada coach Mike Babcock said. "We need that. We played a good hockey game today."
It will be seven if Kane and the U.S. can beat Finland for the bronze medal.
"It's better than nothing," Kane said.
"It's not the medal we wanted to be battling for, but we can still take home some hardware," U.S. forward T.J. Oshie said.
Goalie Jonathan Quick was no slouch for the Americans with 36 saves.
"We didn't score a lot of goals, but we didn't have to," 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."
This was a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game in Vancouver won by Canada in overtime, and the Canadians left little doubt they were the best team.
Meanwhile, Sweden beat Finland 2-1 behind goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Swedes, despite being the top seed from the preliminary round, remain a heavy underdog against Canada.
"We've been told that we're kind of up there but not really with Canada, Russia and the U.S.," Swedish forward Daniel Alfredsson said. "We got into this tournament and we've played pretty good, but not great, and everyone has looked for us to be better.
"We came through with a huge game when we needed to and that's a great feeling. We definitely deserved to win and we're going to enjoy this for a few hours and then we have one big test left. We want to make sure we go home with the gold and make Sunday's game our best yet."
The tournament began with Sweden short Canucks center Henrik Sedin and Red Wings forward Johan Franzen. Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who filled the same role on the Swedish team, was lost to injury during the preliminary round and underwent back surgery on Friday.
"We really didn't give them any of the quality scoring chances that we've been giving up earlier in the tournament," said defenseman Erik Karlsson. "Hank (Lundqvist) has been playing unbelievable for us as well. In that part we feel pretty confident."
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