Not today, USA: Canada stifles U.S. to crush America's gold medal dreams in Sochi

Not today, USA: Canada stifles U.S. to crush America's gold medal dreams in Sochi

That sweet revenge that American hockey fans have been yearning for since Vancouver in 2010? Well, it’ll have to wait until 2018 in South Korea because Friday just wasn’t the Americans’ day in Sochi.

A second-period tip-in from Jamie Benn proved to be the death knell as Canada smothered the United States into submission, 1-0, with a masterful defensive performance and advanced to Sunday’s gold medal game against Sweden, which topped Finland in the other Olympic semifinal.

The loss was a bitter pill for the Americans, who, despite 36 superb saves from goalie Jonathan Quick, once again fell short to our neighbors from the Great White North.

Coming into the game, the question was whether or not the Canadians, who had only six goals from forwards in their previous four games, could muster enough offense to keep up with an American juggernaut that had averaged five goals a game n the tournament.

Turns out the Canadians did get just enough offense because their defense suffocated the Americans at almost every turn.

The Americans had a few solid chances in the first 10 minutes of the contest, including a wonderful Carey Price glove save on defenseman John Carlson off a rush. But after that, the Canadians were stuck to them like super glue.

Almost every time a U.S. player touched or tried to rush the puck up ice, a player in a red maple leaf-adorned sweater was there to meet and pressure him. It was even that way when the U.S. was on a power play. There was nowhere to move the puck and the Americans were forced to keep the puck to the outside and out of the high-scoring areas.

Even when the Americans rushed into the offensive zone, it seemed like they were always outnumbered and silenced by Canadian defenders, specifically backchecking forwards that were able to match the speed of the American forwards and make things that much more difficult for the Americans.

It was an even more impressive shutdown performance by Canada when you consider how fast the pace of the game was. It was insanely fast up-and-down play throughout the entire game. There were barely any breaks to catch some breath, which made for exciting hockey despite the score.

As far as the scoring goes, Canada had sustained momentum at the first intermission despite a scoreless game.

That momentum finally paid off less than two minutes into the second when Benn tipped home a silky slap-pass that Jay Bouwmeester was able to thread to him from the point.

That’s when the smothering Canadian defense really took over and limited any legitimate chances the Americans had to tie the game.

When the Americans did have a legitimate chance on net, Price, who had 31 saves in the shutout, had the answer and his teammates then quickly cleared the puck out of harm’s way. The Americans barely had any sustained pressure. It was one and done.

Quick was phenomenal in the game and kept the U.S. in it. He deserved a better fate than he got.

As a consolation, the U.S. will take on Kimmo Timonen and the rest of Team Finland on Saturday in the bronze medal game.

Hey, any Olympic hardware is good Olympic hardware.

If it makes you feel any better, there’s only six more days until Flyers hockey comes back and all that sweet Nike USA Hockey gear will be like half-off in a few days.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).