GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of – The Canadian women’s hockey team kept its perfect record intact at the Pyeongchang Olympics on Thursday with a hard-fought 2-1 win over the rival United States.
Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., and Hamilton’s Sara Nurse scored for Canada in the second period, while Kendall Coyne countered for the U.S. in the third.
Genevieve Lacasse of Kingston, Ont., made 44 saves in Canada’s net and stopped Jocelyne Lamoreux-Davidson on a penalty shot in the second period.
American goaltender Maddie Rooney turned away 21 of 23 shots.
Both countries had already booked berths in Monday’s semifinals having won their first two games in Pool A.
Finland and the Russian team will play quarter-final games Saturday against Switzerland and Sweden.
With her 16th goal in her fourth Olympics, Agosta moved into second all-time behind Canada’s Hayley Wickenheiser (18).
One of the most storied rivalries in sport has only heated up in recent years. Canada may have won four straight Olympic gold medals, but the United States has claimed seven of the last eight world championships.
After a scoreless first period, Canada struck twice in the second and Lacasse stoned Lamoureux-Davidson late in the period.
But Coyne beat Lacasse between the pads 23 seconds into the third to halve Canada’s lead.
After a review, officials decided Haley Irwin kicked in the puck and ruled no goal midway through the period.
Irwin was also called for closing her hand on the puck in a goal-mouth scramble at 16:08 of the second. Lacasse deflected Lamoureux-Davidson’s penalty-shot attempt wide.
Agosta elbowed a U.S. defender in the face less than a minute later, but the Canadians killed off the penalty.
Nurse’s wrist shot off Rooney’s right shoulder deflected into the top of the net at 14:56 of the second.
Agosta scored a power-play goal at 7:18 on a backhand feed from Natalie Spooner at the corner of the U.S. net. Rooney got a piece of Agosta’s shot, but not enough to prevent the goal.
Canada spent most of the opening five minutes of the game in their own end as the Americans pressed. Lacasse stoned an all-alone Hilary Knight four minutes after faceoff.
Canadian defender Brigette Lacquette roofed a backhand over Rooney late in the period, but the whistle was already sounding for players in the crease and it was quickly waived off.
Canada went 5-1 against the Americans in a six-game exhibition series this winter, although the U.S. beat Canada twice to win November’s Four Nations Cup tournament in Florida.
Thursday’s game was their first meeting since Canada edged the U.S. 2-1 in overtime Dec. 17 in Edmonton.
Both teams were clearly fatigued in that game as players on both sides were in full-fledged training mode. They hadn’t yet started their taper to peak for the Games.
Canadian head coach Laura Schuler played all three goaltenders in the preliminary round.
Ann-Renee Desbiens posted an 18-save shutout against Russia in her Olympic debut Sunday. Veteran netminder Shannon Szabados had 22 saves in Canada’s 4-1 win over Finland on Tuesday.
The Olympic hockey schedule has all teams, men’s and women’s, starting games at varied hours.
The Canadian women have had puck drops at 9:10 p.m. and 4:40 p.m. and Thursday’s game started just after noon local time.
“Throughout the year, we actually have made sure with our game times and our practice times that we varied them,” Schuler said.
The women played their final exhibition game before the games – against a university men’s team in Incheon, South Korea – at 10 p.m.