By Frank Pingue
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Three-time defending champions Canada beat the United States 3-2 on Wednesday in a clash between the women's ice hockey heavyweights who are also expected to play for the gold medal at the Sochi Games.
The marquee matchup of the preliminary round offered what many have come to expect from the sport's two superpowers, an intense, back-and-forth, physical battle played at a high tempo with many scoring chances for each team.
Trailing 1-0 early in the third period, Canada got a pair of quick goals from Meghan Agosta and Hayley Wickenheiser to pull ahead and then went on to seal the win and top Group A.
The loss was the first of the tournament for the United States but they will also advance directly to the semis as they finished second behind Canada in the group.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)