Updated: Friday, 21 February 2014 06:00 | By Agence France-Presse

Poulin powers Canada to women's hockey gold

Marie-Philip Poulin scored an equalizer 54 seconds from time and then potted the game winner in overtime as Canada rallied from 2-0 down to defeat the United States 3-2 and win women's ice hockey gold.

Poulin powers Canada to women's hockey gold

Canada's players celebrate after winning the Women's Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game between Canada and USA at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 20, 2014 - by Alexander Nemenov

Poulin's golden goal came on the power play as she took a pass from Laura Fortino and snapped the puck past a sliding Jesse Vetter in goal for the Americans in the gold medal contest of the 2014 Sochi Games.

Canada had trailed 2-0 late in the third and appeared to be heading to defeat before coming to life to score two goals just 2:32 apart to send the game into extra time at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Brianne Jenner and Poulin both scored late to tie the game 2-2.

"Once we got one we knew to put it on the net," said Canadian forward Meghan Agosta, who won her third Olympic gold. 

"We ended up pulling the goalie and putting one in to go into overtime. At that point we knew we had the momentum."

Poulin got the equalizing goal with their net empty and just 54 seconds left on the clock by beating Vetter in close. 

Canadian defenceman Rebecca Johnston backhanded the puck from the right corner towards the net and Vetter knocked it directly onto the stick of Poulin who made a quick move and fired it home to force overtime.

"I heard her call," said Johnston of Poulin. "I knew she was somewhere in front of the net. I just tried to pass it as quickly as I could.

"I put it a little closer to the goalie than I hoped, but it ended up working out well."

Poulin's overtime winner touched off wild celebrations on the ice as she was mobbed by her teammates while the crowd sang the national anthem 'O Canada'.

It was Canada's fourth straight Olympic women's title and 20th straight victory in the Winter Games dating back to 2002.

- 'It's been ripped from you' -

Poulin's winning goal came with USA forward Hilary Knight in the penalty box for dragging down Canada's Haley Wickenheiser on a breakaway. 

Wickenheiser should have been awarded a penalty shot by referee Joy Tottman but it didn't matter as Poulin scored the clincher just 39 seconds into the powerplay.

The Americans had a chance to tuck the game away late in regulation but a long shot at an empty Canadian goal by Kelli Stack deflected off the post and out of harms way.

Just moments later Poulin scored her first of two on the night.

"You are going to be disappointed, especially when it feels like it has been ripped from you," said Knight.

Jenner opened the scoring for Canada as she took a pass off the boards at centre ice, drove to the net then cut into the middle. Her shot deflected off the knee of USA defenceman Kacey Bellamy and past Vetter to cut the USA's lead to 2-1 with just 3:26 left in the third.

USA captain Meghan Duggan couldn't believe their bad luck.

"I looked over at (backup goalie Molly Schaus) and I said 'there is no way they are going to score two goals on Vets she is hot right now'.

"You get a couple of bounces, they are swarming around the net..."

For the US, the loss in the final game means a third Olympic silver medal. The US won the gold in Nagano 1998, when women's ice hockey was first introduced to the Olympic programme, and silver in Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010. At Torino 2006, the US was third.

Vetter said there is no shame in winning an Olympic silver. 

"You got to play to the finish," Vetter said. "They got a bounce and they had an open player and she took advantage of her opportunity."

Switzerland beat Sweden 4-3 to win bronze.

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