Considering she's often synonymous with winning, it's wild to think that Marie-Philip Poulin won just her second World Championship gold medal.
But that's what happens when the United States is as dominant as they've been. Finally, Canada was able to slay its southern sisters with a 3-2 overtime victory in a game that can only be described as an instant classic.
And if anyone was going to score the game-winning goal for Canada, it had to be Poulin, Canada's captain. At the 2014 Olympics, Poulin scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in the gold medal game to beat the Americans. Four years before that, she scored the only two goals in the final against USA to win gold. While she didn't win in 2018, she scored to give Canada a chance.
It seems like Poulin truly shines when the games matter most. It's crazy to think that, despite her incredible international career, she has often rarely gotten more than six points in a tournament, highlighted by 12 points in 2013.
But when the games matter, Poulin shows up. And Canada was the benefactor on Tuesday.
The Canadian women's team has had a rough few years. After winning gold at the 2014 Olympics, Canada won silver at the next three World Championships and lost gold in the 2018 Olympics via the shootout. Follow that up with a shocking bronze in 2019, the cancellation of the 2020 tournament and the postponement of the 2021 event and Canada's national team hasn't had much to cheer about in quite some time.
Poulin's goal was unconventional. Her shot hit off the bar, went down, bounced over the line and back out quickly. Nobody on the ice, except for Poulin, was sure the puck went in.
“It was pretty exciting, to be honest,” Poulin said in the post-game media call. “To be honest, I kind of knew a little bit it was in, but I never knew (for sure) until the buzzer happened, but it’s just a great feeling, to be honest. When that buzzer happened in the middle of the play, to be honest, we didn’t know how to react. We jumped on the ice, we jumped on each other.”
Poulin didn't need the goal to cement herself as one of the greatest to ever play for Canada's women's team. She's sixth all-time in scoring for the national team in World Championship play, first among active players. If we're just looking at her biggest moments, Poulin is the female equivalent of Sidney Crosby. Big goals, all the time.
“She just finds a way to step it up in big games," coach Terry Ryan said. "When she had that puck streaking through the middle, who else do you want to have the puck on their stick than Poulin? It’s amazing how many big goals she’s scored for Canada over her career, so we’re just glad she’s on our side.”
Poulin, 30, still has so many great years ahead of her. Injuries shortened her 2019 tournament and she missed some time this year after taking a puck up high against Switzerland. But the multi-time CWHL MVP is still playing incredible hockey. Her nine points this year, despite the injury, marked one of Poulin's best tournaments in her international career.
And she's not done yet. Next up, Canada's Olympic team, and you'll definitely need to keep an eye on her when the final game gets tough. And her teammates have her back in a huge way.
"She’s a special player," Brianne Jenner said. "When you have that talent, but you also have that work ethic that she has, I mean that’s why she wears the ‘C’ for us and that’s why she’s been so clutch for us."