SOCHI, Russia — Canada’s defending champions in men’s hockey earned the right to play for their third Olympic gold medal in four Games by blanking their high-scoring US archrivals, 1-0, Friday night on 31 saves by goalie Carey Price before an audience of 11,172 inside the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
It was the first time the Canadians had shut out their star-spangled neighbors at the Games since they did it by the same score in the 1936 tournament in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and went on to claim the silver medal behind Great Britain, most of whose players had grown up in Canada.
The Canadians, who barely survived their quarterfinal date with the Latvians, will face Sweden, the reigning world champion, in Sunday’s championship match while the Americans, who settled for the silver medal in Vancouver four years ago, will play the Finns for the bronze Saturday.
US coach Dan Bylsma, whose club had scored 20 goals in its four previous matches, had predicted a 2-1 outcome, and after the first period the game was scoreless. For the Americans, that was an improvement over the rivals’ encounter in the 2010 final, in which the host Canadians led, 1-0, after the first 13 minutes.
But it didn’t take long for the defending champs to get on the board in the second when forward Jamie Benn redirected defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s offering from inside the left point past a screened Jonathan Quick at 1:41.
That was all the offense the Canadians needed as they threw a blanket over the Americans and played with both diligence and discipline.
When the US couldn’t cash two subsequent power-play opportunities in the period, its chances began slipping away, and pulling Quick with just under a minute to play didn’t allow for the late score that had helped push the Canadian women past their American counterparts for the gold medal in overtime Thursday.