Feb 19, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; USA forward Zach Parise (9) controls the puck against Czech Republic defenseman Tomas Kaberle (7) in the men's ice hockey quarterfinals during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Shayba Arena. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Wild's Parise and Suter, USA Blanked 1-0 by Canada, Will Play Finland for Bronze

No matter how tomorrow’s bronze medal matchup turns out, at least one Minnesota Wild player will return to St. Paul with a medal. It just won’t be of the gold or silver variety.

The Americans came into the tournament with a chip on their shoulder–their sights set on nothing less than the Olympic gold stolen from them by Sidney Crosby and the Canadians four years earlier in Vancouver. Collecting a first round bye with a controversial and stunning win over Russia in the final preliminary round game, Minnesota Wild skaters Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and the U.S.  would easily handle the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals to set a date with their archrivals in the semis.

Unfortunately, a goal by Dallas Star Jamie Benn, and stellar goaltending by Montreal Canadiens star goalie Carey Price, would be all that the defending gold medalists would need to punch their ticket to a gold medal matchup with the defending “big ice” gold medalists from Sweden (the rink in Vancouver was NHL-sized, not Olympic-sized).

For the full game recap, here’s the latest from NHL.com:

SOCHI – Canada won the rematch that was four years in the making. Now it can try to win another gold medal.

Jamie Benn‘s goal early in the second period Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome was all the Canadians needed to beat the United States 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics and a rematch of the 2010 gold-medal game, also won by Canada by one goal.

Canada will play Sweden in the gold-medal game Sunday (7 a.m. ET, NBC, CBC). The Canadians have won two of the past three Olympic gold medals after going 50 years without one (1952-2002). The U.S. will play Finland for the bronze medal Saturday (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Carey Price had the shutout with 31 saves in a game that featured an electric pace, mostly controlled by the Canadians.

Special teams also played a big role in Canada’s win Friday as its penalty kill was 3-for-3. The Canadians were 0-for-2 on the power play but it didn’t matter as the Americans didn’t generate much on their power play as the Canadians held them on the outside most of the time.

Benn scored his goal 1:41 into the second period off a sweet diagonal pas from Jay Bouwmeester. The Canadians had several chances on United States goalie Jonathan Quick after the goal but they couldn’t extend the lead despite controlling the pace for the bulk of the game.

Quick made 36 saves, including nine in the third period. His best was a pad save on Chris Kunitz with just under six minutes remaining in the third period. It at least gave the Americans a chance to tie the game, something they could not do.

Canada had a 28-22 edge in shots on goal after 40 minutes; it was 16-11 after the first period.

Benn and Bouwmeester worked some magic to give Canada the lead.

The play started when Benn made a pretty backhanded pass to Bouwmeester from the right circle to the left point. Benn immediately dashed to the net and Bouwmeester delivered a picture-perfect diagonal pass from his spot at the left point toward the slot. The pass was right on Benn’s stick and he redirected the puck into the net, past Quick’s glove, for the only goal Canada would need.

The Canadians have played three one-goal games in the tournament and their forwards have scored seven goals in five games, but it has been just enough to get them to the precipice of another gold medal.

The U.S. had two power plays before the end of the second period but Canada killed both. Price also came up with a big pad save on Zach Parise‘s redirect attempt from the slot and Max Pacioretty had an opportunity from the right post after Patrick Kane fed him an opportunity from left side, but Canada defended it well.

Quick preserved the one-goal deficit for the Americans with a dazzling pad save on Benn at 14:05 of the second. He had to push off hard from his right to left to get his pad on Benn’s one-timer from the lower part of the right circle with his glove. Quick then was able to cover the puck with his glove.

Canada controlled the play early in the game save for a quick flurry from the Americans. Sidney Crosby‘s line, which included Patrice Bergeron and Chris Kunitz, had three scoring chances on its first shift of the game.

Crosby also had a chance with his backhand during Canada’s lone power play of the first period, but his shot hit Quick in the mask. Patrick Sharp tried to shoot the rebound in but Quick stopped that one too.

The pace at the start of the game was electric. Each team had nine shots on goal before 10 minutes had elapsed. Canada, though, controlled the pace and play for the second half of the first period and most of the second.

The Americans appeared to be trying to survive before Benn scored and then were chasing the game after the goal.

The Canadians wouldn’t let them catch up.

As stated in the recap above, Parise, Suter and the Americans will take on Mikael Granlund’s Finns in a battle for bronze tomorrow. That game will be on NBC Sports Network starting at 9:00 AM Central Time. No matter the outcome, it should be a fun game to watch. We’ll see you then.

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Tags: Mikael Granlund Ryan Suter Winter Olympics Zach Parise

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