KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The United States opened defence of their women’s world hockey championship with a 3-1 win over Canada on Monday.
Brianna Decker scored the game-winner with a power-play goal at 13:55 of the third period. Hilary Knight also scored even strength and into an empty net for the Americans.
Canada led 1-0 early in the third on a power-play goal from defenceman Laura Fortino.
American goalie Alex Rigsby earned the 22-save win. Canada’s Emerance Maschmeyer stopped 36 shots in the loss.
In other games, Finland downed Russia 5-3, Switzerland doubled Japan 4-2 and Sweden edged the Czech Republic 3-2.
Canada faces Russia and the U.S. takes on Finland on Tuesday for their second game in as many days to open the championship.
Both countries went with their younger, less experienced goaltenders in the opener.
Maschmeyer, 21, was given the nod over Charline Labonte for Maschmeyer’s third career start against the Americans. Rigsby, 24, started for the U.S. ahead of Jessie Vetter.
Decker banged in a rebound from the high slot after Maschmeyer’s initial save on a Monique Lamoureux blast from the point.
Knight pulled the U.S. even at 10:52 with a wrist shot that deflected off Canadian defenceman Halli Krzyzaniak’s stick and beat Maschmeyer low glove side.
After a scoreless two periods and the U.S. holding a 24-13 edge in shots, Fortino beat Rigsby high stick side from the high slot 14 seconds into the third in front of a full house at the 5,400-seat Sandman Centre.
The U.S. power play was 44 per cent successful at last year’s world championship in Malmo, Sweden, where they scored three power-play goals in the final en route to a 7-5 win over Canada.
The Canadians posted a pair of key kills in the game before giving up the winner in the third.
Canada stopped the Americans on a two-man advantage early in the first period. Overlapping penalties to start the second had Canada shorthanded for almost four minutes.
The Americans forecheck upped the pressure late in the second, so Canada was forced to be patient on their breakouts. The Canadians scored on their first power-play of the game to start the third period with defenceman Megan Keller in the box for holding.
The hosts generated the bulk of their scoring chances in the middle of the opening period. Momentum swung to the U.S. in the final minutes as the visitors headed to the dressing room up 12-6 in shots on goal.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
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