Le Pays De France - USA outgun Canada 4-2 in pivotal Olympic hockey clash

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USA outgun Canada 4-2 in pivotal Olympic hockey clash
USA outgun Canada 4-2 in pivotal Olympic hockey clash

USA outgun Canada 4-2 in pivotal Olympic hockey clash

The United States outslugged Canada 4-2 on Saturday in a pivotal Olympic clash of hockey heavyweights lacking none of the intensity of their long rivalry despite the absence of NHL superstars.

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The victory gives the Americans coveted North American bragging rights -- for now -- and puts them in the driver’s seat of Group A, the competition’s "Group of Death".

Both sides are relying heavily on youth after the NHL kept its star players from travelling to Beijing due to concerns over Covid, but it was the grizzled veterans who got the scoring started.

Canada struck first, with 35-year-old Mat Robinson slotting home just over a minute into the game, and 33-year-old USA captain Andy Miele striking back a minute later. Both play in Russia’s top-tier pro league.

The Americans took control in the second period when 20-year-old Brendan Brisson made it 3-1, with Kenny Agostino adding the final goal in the third.

Canada, winners of three of the last five hockey golds, were unlucky to strike the crossbar twice.

The pedigree of the two teams -– they’ve won a combined 27 Olympic medals including 11 gold –- made Saturday’s contest one of the marquee matchups of group play.

Group A also includes 2018 silver medallists Germany, who will take on hockey newcomers China later in the day.

Germany opened with a 5-1 loss to Canada, who avenged a 2018 semi-final loss to the Germans.

China, which is heavy on Canadian and US players who signed up to play for the hosts in the country’s first-ever appearance at the Games, were given a rude welcome to Olympic ice by the Americans, who blitzed them 8-0.

In other groups, the defending champion Russians are in control of Group B despite looking lacklustre in two wins so far, and the Finns, another top contender, are atop Group C.