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Sarah Vaillancourt, (26), opened the scoring for Canada against goalie Jessie Vetter, but the U.S. went on to win 4-3 to clinch gold at the women's world hockey championships. ((Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press) )

The United States defeated Canada 4-3 on Saturday to win the gold medal at the women's world hockey championship in Harbin, China.

Jenny Potter scored a pair of power-play goals while Natalie Darwitz added two more at even strength to pace the U.S. to its second gold medal in tournament history.

Sarah Vaillancourt, Katie Weatherston and Jennifer Botterill responded for Canada, which won gold at the 2006 Olympics and later reclaimed the world title at the 2007 tournament in Winnipeg.

"It's never fun," captain Hayley Wickenheiser said of the loss. "Sometimes you lose to learn how to win again. It hurts every time you watch them celebrate like that.

"We beat ourselves more than anything tonight. We took some bad penalties and certainly didn't capitalize on the chances we had."

The Americans led 4-1 after two periods amid some controversy in the 11th meeting between the teams in the final of this event.

Second-period goals by Angela Ruggiero and Darwitz were both awarded after video reviews.

On the Ruggiero goal, the puck ricocheted off diving goalie Kim St. Pierre and just snuck into the corner of the net.

Darwitz later ripped a slapshot from the wing that went through the net's mesh. Replays showed clearly that the puck did indeed go in.

Closing the gap

After Charline Labonte replaced St. Pierre in the third, the Canadians began to dictate play.

Weatherston and Botterill found the net 1:10 apart midway through the period to pull Canada to within a goal.

The Canadians pressured the U.S. the rest of the way, but squandered a 49-second two-man advantage late in the period and couldn't find the equalizer.

American goaltender Jesse Vetter made 21 saves to earn the win.

The U.S. beat Canada 4-2 in a playoff round game Thursday to set up the rematch. Had the Canadians won, they would have played Finland in the final.

Earlier Saturday, the Finns earned the bronze medal with a 4-1 win over Switzerland.