SOCHI, Russia -- Back in December, Marie-Philip Poulin was on the outside looking in.
The young Canadian forward who has drawn constant comparisons to Sidney Crosby was sidelined since September with a high ankle sprain and was set to miss another Olympic tune-up clash against the United States. She wasn't exactly thrilled.
"It's always hard to miss a game, especially when you play the U.S," she then told the Canadian Press.
And why wouldn't she be up for a big game against Team Canada's biggest rival? As an 18-year-old national team rookie, she scored both goals in Canada's 2-0 win against the United States to lock up the gold medal four years ago on home ice at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
On Thursday here in the second straight Olympic gold-medal hockey game against the U.S., Poulin again scored twice -- first to tie the score at 2 with 54.6 seconds left in the third period and again almost midway through sudden-death overtime -- to give the Canadians a 3-2 win and fourth straight Olympic title.
After the game, teammate Jayna Hefford simply dubbed Poulin "the best hockey player in the world."
"There is something there with Pou," Canada coach Kevin Dineen said after the game. "She doesn't speak a lot, but I always catch her eyes and there is something in her eyes that spells 'big-game player,' and obviously she showed that back in Vancouver. I think she put a major stamp on that today. ... Pou finds a way to get herself in a scoring position and when you find her there she does good things."
Poulin admitted she wondered those few months back if she'd even be in the lineup because of the ankle injury.
"When you get injured, you always doubt," she said. "But with the support of Hockey Canada, I am so happy to be back. ... Being back here with the jersey on and the gold medal around my neck, it's the best thing ever."
Poulin told reporters in the mixed zone that while this win is just as sweet as 2010, there is one thing she'll do differently. When asked by Yahoo! Sports hockey writer Greg Wyshynski if she was going to celebrate with beer and a cigar -- making reference to the team's Vancouver celebration that drew unwarranted criticism for the women's team -- she joked, "No, I'll do that back in the [locker] room."