"They came at us with 20 guys," said U.S. coach Dan Bylsma, who juggled his lines as the game wore on, trying to find some elixir to generate a tying goal. "They came at us with speed and they came at us for 60 minutes, and that was a fast game. That was as fast a game as I've ever been a part of. There was lots of speed out there, up and down the ice, and we weren't able to counter that as much as we'd like."
Blake Wheeler, who did not play at all in the first two periods, did get in a couple of shifts in James van Riemsdyk's place with Phil Kessel and Joe Pavelski. Although Kessel had an early good chance breaking in from the right, he was not in the same groove that had seen him lead the tournament in scoring, playing most of the night against the Canadian line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Marleau and Jeff Carter.
"We didn't really create much offense," said Patrick Kane, who has struggled to generate offense since early in the tournament and still has yet to score in five games, even though he had three shots Friday. "On the chances we did have, their goalie made some good saves. It's a little disappointing. We knew it was going to be a tough game. No one said it was going to be easy. I think everyone expected a tight-checking game, but to say we would have gotten shut out, I don't think anyone would have thought that."
"It was a great, great game by both teams, I think," Fowler said. "They had their fair share of chances. Quickie stood on his head for us, made some big saves, and I thought we had some good scoring opportunities, too. Unfortunately, we couldn't get one to go. It's a one-goal game. Those are two great hockey teams playing, the best players in the world. I didn't think it was a lack of effort. I'm proud of the way that we battled, and credit to them for the way that they played tonight."
The U.S. was playing without second-pair defenseman Paul Martin, who suffered a hand injury and will be unavailable for the bronze-medal game. His place in the lineup was taken by John Carlson, who paired with Martin's normal defense partner, Brooks Orpik. On the Benn goal, Orpik and Carlson were on the ice and Benn found a seam in the slot and redirected a nice Jay Bouwmeester pass into the net. That's how fine the line is or was between these two teams.
Canada had two power-play chances and did not score. The U.S. had three, and the failure to capitalize on them was also a contributing factor in this heart-wrenching defeat.
"Certainly, they came at us with a lot of pressure on the penalty kill and we didn't really have a great response to that," Backes said. "[We] tried to be cute when they're pressuring. You've got to play harder and really get into a grind game and play a 5-on-5 almost type mentality when they're pressuring. We didn't do that; we got cute, and they sent it down the ice time after time."
In some ways, the teams' roles were reversed from four years ago. Four years ago, the question was whether the U.S. could keep up offensively with a talented Canadian squad. In Sochi, the U.S. set the standard offensively with 20 goals in its first four games, seven more than Canada.