Updated: February 12, 2014 10:05AM
SOCHI, Russia — Megan Agosta scored twice and assisted on Hayley Wickenheiser’s goal to lead Canada to a 3-2 victory over the United States on Wednesday in a tense preview of the expected gold medal match.
Agosta scored in the second period to tie the game 1-1 and then Canada added the go-ahead goal 93 seconds later on a shot that U.S. goalie Jesse Vetter seemed to have stopped, drawing a whistle from referee Anna Eskola of Finland. But the puck trickled through Vetter’s pads and over the goal line.
Video — and presumably audio — review confirmed the puck went into the net before the whistle.
Charline Labonte made 25 saves for Canada.
Hilary Knight scored and Vetter stopped 28 shots for the United States.
Down 3-1, the Americans pulled the goalie with more than two minutes left and cut the deficit to one on Anne Schleper’s goal. A penalty for too many players on the ice with 31 seconds left gave the Americans a 6-on-4 advantage, but a final flurry couldn’t bring them the tying goal.
Both teams had already clinched spots in the semifinals, but Canada enters the playoffs as the top seed.
It’s the fifth time the teams have met in the Olympics, but the first since women’s hockey was added to the Winter Games in 1998 that they have played in the preliminary round. The Americans beat Canada twice that year — including the gold medal game — but it’s been Canada ever since, at least in the Olympics.
In addition to leading their southern neighbors 3-1 in Olympic gold medals, Canada has 10 world championships to five for the United States. No other country has won one.
The Americans have won five of the last seven, though, including last year’s in Ottawa. In a pre-Olympic tuneup tour, the Canadians won three straight but then lost four in a row in the turmoil following coach Dan Church’s surprise December resignation. He was replaced by former NHL player and coach Kevin Dineen.
Through all of the winning and losing streaks, the teams have remained equal. And that’s the way they played it for the first 37 minutes, with the goalies withstanding rush after rush to keep their shutouts intact.
The fans shouted dueling chants of “Ca-na-da!” and “U-S-A!” And none of the players on the bench sat down, either standing to cheer on their teammates or leaning over the boards.
The United States finally scored when Schleper’s wrist shot was tipped by Knight into the net. But Canada tied it with a power-play goal of its own, making it 1-1 in the third period when Agosta parked on the right side of the net and waited for the pass from Wickenheiser.
The Canadians celebrated a second goal just 93 seconds later, then Agosta scored on a breakaway to make it 3-1.