This was a comeback and meltdown for the ages.
"It's really hard to swallow right now, a tough one for sure," said U.S. forward Jocelyn Lamoureux. "It sucks."
Lamoureux was in the penalty box after being whistled off for slashing, banished for trying to whack a loose puck from Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados' pads. Asked whether British referee Joy Tottman made a bad call, Lamoureux demurred somewhat.
"I don't want to say that myself, but I would agree with that, especially when [Szabados] didn't have it," Lamoureux said. "It was between her knees."
It was a game filled with bench gripes from both sides and several huddles among officials. Asked about the officiating, U.S. coach Katey Stone offered a stiff, "No comment."
Regardless, Team USA had plenty for which to answer after settling for silver medals for the third time in four Winter Games.
The Americans held a 2-0 lead on goals by Meghan Duggan midway through the second period and Alex Carpenter at 2:01 of third. Afterward, they steadily made the safe plays, carefully working pucks out of danger and dumping them back into Canada's zone to protect what should have been a commanding lead.
However, Brianne Jenner sparked Canada's revival when her shot ricocheted off a leg past U.S. netminder Jessie Vetter with 3:26 remaining.
The crowd of 10,639 at Bolshoy Ice Dome, which had been equally supportive of both teams, suddenly erupted and adopted the Canadians, likely rooting as much for a tying goal and extended play.
Poulin gave them what they wanted.
With Szabados pulled for the extra attacker, Poulin pounced on a loose puck at the top of the crease and banged it into a wide-open net with 54.6 seconds remaining, touching off an even wilder celebration.
Moments earlier, U.S. forward Kelli Stack had almost iced it for the U.S. Her clearing shot around a linesman near the U.S. blue line tumbled 150 feet down the ice toward Canada's empty net only to clank harmlessly off the right goal post with 1:24 remaining.
"Yeah, unlucky," said Lamoureux. "They played really desperate. Couple big bounces helped them. It was a tough one."
Stunned heading to overtime, Team USA managed to recover during the intermission and came out flying 4-on-4, using its speed to create several scoring chances.
But Szabados, whose 2-0 shutout four years ago in Vancouver vanquished the Americans, withstood the early barrage, making a snazzy glove save on defenseman Gigi Marvin to set the stage for Poulin's heroics.
Poulin crashed the net and finished a fine three-way passing play with veteran Hayley Wickenheiser and Laura Fortino.
"It was a great play by Wick and Fortino," Poulin said. "They gave it to me right on the tape and I tried to shoot it right away."
In 2006 unheralded Sweden shocked Team USA with a 3-2 shootout victory in Turin, Italy. Four years earlier in Salt Lake City, the United States ran its winning streak to 35 games, including a 9-0 run against Canada, into the gold medal game, which the Canadians swiped in another one-goal thriller.
Marvin lauded her team's play and lamented how once again this epic rivalry came down to one goal.
"This entire experience represents more than just 60 minutes," Marvin said. "Yes, we wanted to win. Yes, good will come out of it. Right now, it's the hurting process."