When the US women's hockey team beat Canada to win gold, they did more than just get one over their old rivals -- they helped rescue Team USA's Olympics.
Up to that point, Pyeongchang was beginning to look like a bit of a bust for the United States.
Several big American names had fallen short of expectations, and the biggest team at the Games was headed for its least successful Winter Olympics in 20 years.
Skier Mikaela Shiffrin was attempting multiple gold medals, but she finished with one gold and one silver -- and also yielded her 2014 slalom title, vomiting in the process.
Highly decorated fellow skier Lindsey Vonn, in her Olympic farewell, had to settle for bronze in the downhill and finished sixth in the super-G.
Speed skater Heather Bergsma, another American heavily fancied for gold, finished well outside the medal places in all three of her individual events.
By Wednesday morning South Korean time, with five days of competition to go, America were sixth on the medals table with five golds.
After the early excitement of the 17-year-old snowboarders Red Gerard and Chloe Kim each winning gold, American media were growing alarmed.
"The disappointments and close calls for the Americans have befallen the famous and the barely known," said USA Today, listing Shiffrin, Vonn and 18-year-old figure skater Nathan Chen, who finished without a medal.
The US won nine gold in Sochi, where Russia topped the table. But Russia's top athletes have been been banned from Pyeongchang over a major drug scandal, meaning more opportunities for other countries.
- 'Women stepped up' -
But at its darkest hour, Team USA struck gold.
Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall pulled off a shock win in the women's team sprint free, becoming the first Americans to win an Olympic cross-country event.
David Wise, after falling twice, produced a clutch final run to win the freestyle skiing halfpipe.
And then the crowning moment, when the US women's ice hockey team beat four-time defending champions and arch-rivals Canada 3-2 in a dramatic penalties shootout.
Team USA consequently jumped up to fourth in the medals table with eight golds -- five of them won by women.
The US still look likely to fall slightly below the forecast of Games statistics-provider Gracenote, which predicted 11 golds.
But where just a few days earlier USA Today and others had been fretting, the newspaper was now celebrating the hockey triumph as "one of the most satisfying moments in US Olympic history".
The New York Post said America's female competitors -- led by the hockey team -- "are saving the Olympics for Team USA".
"USA Olympics was being humiliated -- then women stepped up," the newspaper said, pointing out that eight of the last 10 US medals were won by female athletes.
And it could yet get better -- late Thursday the US beat the Canadians again, this time in men's curling, to set up a gold-medal showdown against Sweden on Saturday.
Team USA needs one more victory to reach nine gold medals and equal their tally from the last three Games -- and avoid their lowest return since winning six at Nagano 1998.
Ryan Hayes, an American fan dressed as Uncle Sam at the figure skating competition, said there had been "hits and misses" for the US at the Olympics.
Hits: women's ice hockey. Misses: speed skating, he said.
"People had high expectations and when you have the largest delegation of athletes (241), it's understandable because it's a sheer numbers game in that respect," said Hayes.