By Frank Pingue
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Marie-Philip Poulin is considered a clutch performer on the big stage and she was at it again on Thursday, leading Canada to a thrilling come-from-behind win in the women's ice hockey gold medal game at the Sochi Olympics.
Four years after scoring both goals in a 2-0 title triumph over the United States at the Vancouver Games, Poulin netted the tying goal and overtime winner in a 3-2 win over the same opponents for Canada's fourth straight Olympic gold.
"She doesn't speak a lot but there's something in her eyes that spells 'big game player' and obviously she showed that in Vancouver and I think she put a major stamp on that today," Canadian coach Kevin Dineen told reporters.
Poulin scored the game's tying goal with 55 seconds left in regulation, moments after the United States nearly sealed the win when a clearing attempt from their end went the length of the ice and hit the left post of an empty Canadian net.
The 22-year-old forward struck again eight minutes into the sudden-death overtime when she swatted the puck into the U.S. net while Canada was enjoying a four-on-three powerplay.
"I couldn't believe it tonight. It's the best feeling ever," Poulin said. "We never gave up and believed in ourselves.
"We worked hard for this but we never expected to leave it that late. This is a team that never gives up."
Poulin led Canada with three goals and two assists in Canada's five games, two points shy of the tournament's co-scoring leaders, who both played one extra game.
Her team mates were singing her praises after the game, calling her a leader and clutch player, who they expect to be a staple of the national team for some time.
"She's going to be the captain of this team in the future, for sure," Canadian forward Jayna Hefford said.
"I don't think she gets enough credit for how good she is and I think she showed the world tonight that she's the best player in the world."
(Editing by John O'Brien)