Four years ago, the U.S. women’s hockey team rode a four-game winning streak over rival Canada into the Olympics, then lost both games in Sochi, including a gut-wrenching overtime final.
This time, Canada goes into the Winter Games having won four straight.
The Canadians beat the Americans 2-1 in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday night, taking their pre-Olympic series 5-3 overall.
“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Canada coach Laura Schuler said. “There’s still more work to do.”
The Canadians were led by their stalwarts — captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in regulation, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Wakefield scored 26 seconds into overtime and longtime goalie Shannon Szabados stopped 34 of 35 shots.
Hilary Knight netted the U.S. goal, with Maddie Rooney making 24 saves.
“The goal for us is to be hitting on all cylinders in February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.
The U.S. appeared to be in that kind of form until about two weeks ago.
Before this losing streak, the U.S. had a 12-4 record against Canada since the start of 2015, including taking the last three world championship finals.
At one point, the U.S. won six straight games over a 12-month stretch, its longest streak over Canada since it famously won eight straight going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics then lost the gold-medal game.
Canada also beat the U.S. in their last four meetings before the 2006 Olympics and five straight going into the 2010 Olympics.
The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 1. The national-team roster is at 25 players (22 skaters, three goalies), but the Olympic roster is 23 (20 skaters, three goalies).
“Can’t live in the past, can’t live in the future, so tonight we were worried about this game,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said, according to the Canadian Press. “We weren’t looking ahead to February.”
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