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Pyeongchang 2018: Canada holds off Finland 4-1, USA defeats Russia 5-0

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First Olympic goal for Saulnier, ninth for Välilä, and Jocelyne Lamoureux sets an Olympic record.

Emily Clark #26 of Canada battles for the puck against Finland in the second period during the Women’s Ice Hockey Preliminary Round
Emily Clark #26 of Canada battles for the puck against Finland in the second period during the Women’s Ice Hockey Preliminary Round
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Canada vs Finland 4-1

First period

Shannon Szabados vs Noora Räty once again. Laura Schuler starts the “rookie line” of Sarah Nurse, Emily Clark and Laura Stacey but they’re off quickly, giving way to the top line.

Mélodie Daoust gets the puck and fakes a couple of passes before finding Meghan Agosta who scores just 35 seconds into the game. 1-0 Canada. This game might not go the way Finland wants. Certainly it hasn’t started the way they did against USA.

The Agosta-Daoust-Poulin line is just absolutely disgusting. Every time they’re on the ice they seem to get Noora Räty moving east-west, which is the only way one scores on her.

The Finns get a flurry of chances on Shannon Szabados but when the puck comes out Susanna Tapani gets called for a bodycheck and Canada’s got a power play. Finland gets more time in the Canadian zone than I’d like and then as the penalty winds down, Natalie Spooner gets called for a check of her own.

Both sides survive the power play. Canada’s generally doing a good job of keeping Finland from going further than the neutral zone.

I type that and Rosa Lindstedt gets a high shot that beats Szabados but not the post.

Mention of the golden helmet, Canada’s tradition that gets passed to a player on her 100th game of international play. Last game it was Jocelyne Larocque, today it’s Meaghan Mikkelson.

Finland gets another power play on a slash by Jennifer Wakefield and Szabados goes for a walk for a nerve-wracking moment. I humbly suggest to our goalie that when the opposing team has a power play and is in the Canadian zone that she stay in the fucking net.

Lovely example of persistence by Larocque who tries a shot even as she’s down and sliding across the ice.

Hard shot by Michelle Karvinen but Szabados has it handled.

Fast brings the puck into the offensive zone, followed up by Jenner, both of them given way too much room, but Räty stops it.

Less than three minutes left in the period. Marie-Philip Poulin grabs a turnover right in front of the Finnish net and roofs a backhand. It’s called off (official thought it was off the crossbar) and play continues but after review, we have a good goal and Captain Canada has her first goal of the tournament, 2-0.

Szabados goes for a walk again and ends up on her ass but the puck stays away from the net nonetheless. (Shannon, my blood pressure!)

Agosta goes down and Isa Rahunen goes off for holding. I’m not sure if they’re calling more things or if the game is legitimately more physical than some of the earlier games.

Better power play for Canada, with consistent pressure and a shot from Rebecca Johnston seems to go in the net perhaps with some help from Natalie Spooner, but that’s waved off too and we have another review. Räty had the puck but her pad and the puck seem to have gone back beyond the goal line. Officials decide it’s not clear on the replay, no goal.

Shots are 14-5 for Canada on the period, which are the sort of numbers we’re looking for.

Second period

Power play continues. Lot of passing, not a lot of shooting and Finland clears the puck just as the penalty expires.

Rookie line gets a good chance but can’t convert. Rebecca Johnston comes close but it goes through the crease instead of into the net.

Number of turnovers by Finland is getting a little alarming.

Long shot that seems to confuse Szabados for a moment but she handles it, if awkwardly.

Johnston and Jenner come in 2 on 0 but Jenner can’t complete. They come around again with an almost identical play, this time by Jillian Saulnier and Brigette Lacquette but Räty has that as well.

The top line come charging in but they get a little too close. Canada’s set up in Finland’s zone as if it’s a power play and sure enough the puck comes back to Daoust from Laura Fortino with Agosta screening and Daoust wires it in for her third goal of the tournament and the third goal of the game. 3-0 Canada.

Aww the boys are in the crowd. They show Canadian goalie Ben Scrivens but not his wife, former New York Riveter Jenny Scrivens - she’s probably in USA gear if she’s there.

Finland gets a 2 on 0 chance but Saila Saari can only just take the pass, she can’t turn it around to a shot.

Commentator Mike Lee keeps exclaiming about how tiny Sanni Hakala is. She’s 154 cm (about 5 ft 12 in) but she’s a centimetre taller than the shortest skater in the tournament, Choe Un Gyong of North Korea.

Tanja Niskanen gets a chance in close but Sazabdos keeps it out.

For the second game in a row, the commentators talk about how Brigitte Lacquette is the “first Indigenous player” for Canada. This is incorrect. I’m not sure whether there was anyone else who preceded her but Jocelyne Larocque is Métis and as previously mentioned this is her 101st game with Team Canada. Lacquette is the first First Nations player for Canada.

Canada gets a too many men call so Finland gets a late power play. Laura Stacey spends a fair amount of time with the puck in the Finnish zone. Canada gets in again but Blayre Turnbull fumbles the puck. Susanna Tapani gets in a shot and again Szabados doesn’t look all that graceful about it but has the puck.

Jillian Saulnier gets a breakaway on a pass from Johnston. It’s just her and Noora Räty and she scores her first Olympic goal. There seems to be a bit of a question as to whether it’s offside, although no official review. The broadcast replay shows it’s fine, 4-0 Canada.

Slashing call on Emily Clark with seconds to go in the period so Finland will start the third on the power play. Shots are 10-5 Canada.

Third period

Agosta nearly scores on her own net when a puck goes bobbling around the Canadian net. Karvinen gets a puck on net that goes all over the place before Szabados bellyflops onto it.

Nurse and Clark get a chance in but the puck is bouncing and they can’t quite settle.

The game is barely back at even strength when Sara Säkkinen takes Laura Fortino into the boards and Canada gets another power play. Fortino looked shaky getting up, favouring a leg, but she stays in the game.

The Canadian power play is a bit of a mess, Finland getting too much time in the Canadian zone. Tapani in particular gets a shorthanded chance. They’re going to need to be less sloppy on Wednesday night against the US.

A mess in front of the Finnish net ends up with a number of players on top of Räty and for a moment it does not look good. She gets up and stays in net. Hopefully no long-term damage, they’re going to need her against Russia.

Things generally look too loose for both teams and finally Finland scores on Szabados for the first time in many a game. It’s Riikka Välilä, the 44 year old badass, because of course it is. Assists to Tapani and Karvinen. 4-1.

This seems to spark a bit of an offensive push for Finland, who get another dangerous looking chance immediately thereafter, and two more after the tv break.

Another “illegal hit” (bodycheck) call on Finland, so Canada’s got another power play with over 11 minutes left in the game. Again, not the tightest power play for Canada, this is not what we want to see. Susanna Tapani gets a shorthanded breakaway and thank goodness for Shannon Szabados, who shuts the door.

Crosscheck called on Linda Välimäki literally two seconds after the previous penalty expires so Canada gets more practice on the power play. It looks better, but an offside call is all that keeps Välilä from a breakaway.

The speed picks up in the last half of the period, Finland pushing and Canada trying to push back. Daoust and Jenner both get opportunities but are denied by the post and Räty respectively.

Finland is making more of the passes they were missing, Canada is missing more of the passes they were making. If they look like this against the States, they’re in trouble. Finland pulls Räty with 3:45 left.

Spooner races Jenni Hiirikoski for a puck and Finland wants an icing call (that they probably should have gotten).

Johnston tries to hit Brianne Jenner with a pass but misses and this time Finland gets their icing call. Finland calls a time out, there’s 1:17 left.

Karvinen fires a shot that Szabados loses track of but manages to keep it out. Canada’s still trying for the empty net but missing.

Finland still pressing, set up Canada’s zone, but Karvinen just misses the puck offside and Räty has to come back in with seven seconds left in the game.

Great start for Canada, who will get a bye into the semi-finals if USA beats Russia today, but lousy finish. Finland outshot Canada 13-8 in the third. Hopefully Canada can tighten up and keep their focus in the next game, Wednesday night at 10:10 pm Eastern.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 4 Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

USA vs Russia 5-0

Nicole Hensley is in net for Team USA, and in a slight surprise, the Russians go with 19-year-old Valeria Tarakanova.

First Period

Through the first two minutes, Russia is doing a good job disrupting the US pressure in the offensive zone. We’ll see if that remains consistent through the whole game, but this is different from how Russia looked against Canada—much more organized.

A hard collision between Amanda Pelkey and Fanuza Kadirova led to Pelkey down on the ice and a whistle to stop play. Pelkey skated off on the ice under her own power, but that’s a disconcerting start to any game.

Russia’s goalie makes a solid stick save on Dani Cameranesi, one of the US’s first threatening moments.

Angelina Goncharenko stands Kendall Coyne up at the Russian blue line and sends it the other way. This is actually an accomplishment—with the foot speed she has, usually Coyne just turnstiles anyone who gets in her way.

Tarakanova makes a remarkable save on Hilary Knight, after a Megan Keller shot from the point deflects off Coyne’s stick and lands right in front of Knight at the far post. Knight isn’t known to miss from that close, but the Russian goalie is able to get her pad over and keep Knight from elevating the puck.

Russia’s doing a good job of controlling the US’s zone entries, shown by Lyudmila Belyakova forcing a turnover in the neutral zone to push the puck into the US’s zone. Russia aren’t able to turn that into a scoring attempt, but they’re doing better than a lot of teams right now at slowing down a faster, more skilled team.

Great defensive play by Liana Ganeyeva on Brianna Decker, who’s just so good—Ganeyeva pushes the puck right off her stick while she’s skating in on goal.

Okay, the broadcast just referred to Team USA’s goalies as “rookies”, and while I know that they mean “to the Olympics” calling Alex Rigsby a rookie for Team USA is kind of absurd. The woman has four World Championship gold medals with the senior team.

Kacey Bellamy gets the US on the board! Marvin sends the puck to Jocelyne Lamoreux down low, and Lamoreux passes cross-ice to Bellamy, whose shot from the faceoff circle finds its way through traffic and past Tarakanova.

Pelkey’s back on the ice, which is nice to see.

Man, Russia’s neutral zone defense is really good! They’ve developed a strategy for obstructing the US from skating through, forcing them to skate back into the defensive zone and regroup. Even once the US gains the zone, they’re defended very tightly.

A blocked shot from Cayla Barnes turns into a rush the other way for Russia, but they aren’t able to convert. A few minutes later, a shot from Yelena Dergachyova deflects off Hensley’s glove, the first threatening offensive chance for Russia so far. Russia isn’t getting shots on goal, but they’re sure doing a good job suppressing the US’s shot count. At one point, Coyne tries to go for the net, and is immediately surrounded by four Russian defenders.

Team USA takes a holding penalty, Kendall Coyne on Yevgenia Dyupina along the boards in the Russian zone. That’s not a great penalty to take, even though I’m sure the tight Russian defense is probably driving USA nuts. Russia hasn’t been able to threaten much on offense, so we’ll see what they have with a player advantage.

Turns out, not much! Olga Sosina has trouble keeping it in at the blue line on the cycle, and as soon as Russia’s able to gain the zone again, the US is able to clear. Russia is not able to get set up for any length of time. Great penalty kill by the US.

Hannah Brandt is able to outmaneuver several Russian defenders to gain the zone and fire a shot on Tarakanova, who calmly sticks it into the corner.

Coyne blows in, curls around the net, but her centering pass aiming for Knight in the slot misses her, and then Russia’s able to quickly take control.

The first period ends with the shots 7-2, which is definitely not what the US wanted.

Second Period

The second period starts off with more of the same. Russia is employing suffocating defense, but they’re not managing to generate much offense at all. Even when Russia’s able to take shots, they’re not doing a great job of getting their shots on net. There’s an exception, by Diana Kanayeva, and Hensley’s able to glove it.

Dani Cameranesi manages to knock down a Pirogova outlet pass that might’ve become something.

USA crashes the net (not for the last time this period), and with the puck flipping up midair, Kessel gets knocked down in the crease. Russia’s able to collect the puck and sweep it out of danger, but that’s a tactic that looked dangerous.

Another great pad save by Tarakanova, kicking out her leg to rob a backhand try by Cameranesi right on her doorstep.

Yekaterina Lobova breaks up an US pass in the Russian zone and sends it the other way. The US needs to get cleaner with their passing, because Russia isn’t going to hang back and let them get away with moments of sloppiness.

The US is able to get in and set up on the cycle—we haven’t seen that much from them this game—but Russia’s very committed to the shot-blocking life. I’d be very interested in seeing shot attempts for this game for both teams.

Tarakanova smothers a Haley Skarupa shot from far out. She’s got a handle on those kind of shots, and the US really needs to work on making her life harder.

Russia takes their first penalty, Pirogova for cross-checking Amanda Kessel on the rush. The power play starts off with a threatening crease scramble, but Russia’s able to pick it out of danger and clear. A Russian defender tries to stand up Decker on her way back into the zone, and I thought it might be called as body-checking, but fortunately for Russia it stayed 5 on 4 and was whistled for offsides instead.

After another crease scramble—involving literally every single Russian on ice at the time—Tarakanova is somehow able to keep the puck out of the net and eventually cover it, while sprawled out on the ice covered in her own teammates. With a lot of help from their goalie, Russia kills off the penalty.

The US is able to continue the offensive pressure after the power play is over, helped by a few misplays in their own zone by Russia, but once again Tarakanova is able to keep anything from coming of it.

The US scores their second goal, after quick passing around the offensive zone by Jocelyne Lamoureux’s line leads to Tarakanova coming off the post enough that Lamoureux can put it in. Only a few seconds later, Lamoureux steals a Russian faceoff win and gets the first breakaway of the game. She makes no mistake, getting Tarakanova to bite and then flipping it over her pad. Russia might be showing some fatigue—it takes a lot of energy to keep up the kind of tight-checking swarm defense.

Those two Lamoureux goals set a new Olympic record for the fastest pair of goals scored, by a man or a woman, which is pretty nifty! I think we’re all mildly surprised it was Jocelyne Lamoureux, but she’s been great this game.

There’s some pressure from Russia, including a curling play by Belyakova that none of the Russians in the slot are able to bang home.

Play quickly goes the other way, and after another crease crash (we’re seeing some tactical adjustment, I think) Gigi Marvin puts a rebound past Tarakanova. That leads to a goalie change, the Russians putting Nadezhda Morozova in. It’s a disappointing result for Tarakanova, who had a good first half of the game. She’s young, she’ll have plenty of other chances to play Team USA.

Maria Batalova takes a slashing penalty, giving Morozova an exciting test right after coming off the bench cold! How nice of Russia! They’re able to kill this one off, however. Russia’s penalty kill has impressed this game—it’s a microcosm of what they’re doing at even strength, only they can ice the puck without consequence.

After the penalty is killed off, Morozova stops a howitzer of a Hilary Knight shot with what looks like her high shoulder/neck. Russia seems to be regaining their equilibrium a bit. Pirogova puts a shot on net, which they hadn’t done for a while, helping to keep Nicole Hensley awake.

As the second comes to an end, Russia takes another penalty, Batalova (again) for high-sticking. Poor Morozova’s come into the game cold only to face two penalties in quick succession. Nice play by Yekaterina Smolina to stand up the US as they try to re-enter after a clear in the dying seconds, keeping the score 4-0.

Third Period

Russia kills off the remainder of the Batalova penalty without much fuss. Morozova makes a nice save on Lee Stecklein from right smack dab in the slot—Stecklein probably watched Bellamy’s first-period goal and decided to get in on the fun as a defender.

The Kessel-Brandt-Cameranesi line gets some good puck movement in their own zone, but Morozova is able to make the save. That’s a line that’s looked better as the game’s progressed.

Hell of a chance from Valeria Pavlova, who easily outmaneuvers Pfalzer and gives Hensley her first good test in a while.

Uncharacteristic laziness with the puck by a Russian in her own zone leads to Coyne picking her pocket and getting a shot off on Morozova. They didn’t have a ton of those defensive zone giveaways to start the game, but they’re growing much sloppier, or the US is getting better at reading the play. Probably both.

Kadirova and Marvin both lose an edge and collide into the boards, in a play that looked momentarily scary. They both got up and seem okay.

Another one of those crease scrambles, with Knight trying to make a play on her knees, but Russia’s able to clear it this time. Morozova’s looked rock solid since she came in most of the way through the second period. She’s already made an armpit save (is that a thing?) to keep J. Lamoureux from completing her hat trick.

Hannah Brandt is able to capitalize on a giveaway by Russia in their own zone, stealing a pass meant for Pirogova. Morozova makes the first save, but Brandt follows up and gets her own rebound. There’s a review to make sure she didn’t glove it in, and it’s reviewed as a hand pass and disallowed. You can see her open her hand as the puck makes contact, which might’ve been the difference, who knows. I don’t pretend to be able to predict goal reviews no matter who’s doing them. The score remains 4-0.

A long shot from Lee Stecklein leads to a crease scramble, and a quick whistle with the puck still loose probably helps save a goal. It’s been interesting to watch the US adjust their tactics and figure out they need to crash the crease more on Russia, instead of letting the Russian defense win board battles and clear the zone.

Dergachyova floats a shot against Hensley, who hasn’t had much work to do this game at all. As far as Russian forwards go, Dergachyova’s been one of their best on their relatively infrequent forays into the US zone.

With under two minutes left, Hannah Brandt decides that she really does want a goal this game, actually. Cameranesi drives to the net and is tripped up by Goncharenko, but Brandt easily collects the puck, makes a nice move and tucks it around Morozova.

That’s the nicest goal the US has had this game, and it’ll be the last. Yet again, the US overcomes a lackluster first period for a pretty convincing 5-0 win.