Canada and the United States once again played a gold-medal game for the ages.
The Canadians rallied from a late two-goal deficit to send the game into overtime, and Marie-Philip Poulin scored the game-winner 8:10 into the extra period to end matters.
That immediately set off a celebration on the Canadian bench that was juxtaposed with the agony on the American side. The United States had built a 2-0 lead on a late second-period goal by Meghan Duggan and an early third-period score by Alex Carpenter.
It appeared that lead would hold up as the Canadians were still being shut out by U.S. goaltender Jessie Vetter with under four minutes remaining in the third period. However, Briane Jenner scored for Canada with 3:26 on the clock to give that nation hope.
While the United States tried to maintain possession of the puck and stem the tide, it couldn't keep Canada down. Poulin scored with 55 seconds remaining to tie the score.
While Canada had all the momentum, the United States had several good chances to score in overtime, but Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados stopped them all. A series of penalties gave Canada a two-man advantage, and when Poulin got the puck inside the faceoff circle, she whipped a hard shot by Vetter for the golden goal.
The game mimicked the 2010 men's championship game, in which Canada beat the United States in overtime for the gold medal.
The Canadian women defended the gold medal they won at the United States' expense in Vancouver in 2010 and have now won four consecutive gold medals.
Silver: United States
Switzerland used a four-goal rally in the third period to overcome a two-goal deficit and defeat Sweden, 4-3, in the bronze-medal game.
Switzerland trailed, 2-0, after two periods, but goals by Sara Benz and Phoebe Stanz early in the third period allowed them to tie the score and take the momentum.
That paid off at the 13:43 mark of the third period, when Lara Stadler intercepted a pass near the blue line and drove to her right. As she got between the face-off circles, she made a cross-ice pass to Jessica Lutz, who beat Swedish goalie Valentina Lizana-Wallner for the go-ahead goal.
Switzerland would add an empty-net goal, and Sweden scored in the final minute to narrow the margin back to one.
Swiss goaltender Florence Schelling stopped 28-of-31 shots.
Update by Steve Silverman
All those other games, they were just prologue. The two best teams in women's hockey are the United States and Canada. The edge, in recent years, has gone to the skaters from the Great White North. These two teams hate each other, and that will make for an epic gold-medal game.
As Bleacher Report's Dan Levy notes, "The Canadian women already beat the U.S. in the preliminary round in the most hard-fought game of the entire tournament."
The U.S. just came off a semifinal game where it won, 6-1, over Sweden while firing off 70 shots to nine. The Canadians had a rougher go of it against Switzerland in their semifinal, winning 3-1.
Canada has won three straight gold medals in the Olympics, but that streak comes to an end. The Americans have been explosive, scoring 20 goals to Canada's 14.
Switzerland gave Canada a run for its money and should handle Sweden.
Gold: United States