Canada women score three in third to beat U.S.

Wednesday, 02.12.2014 / 10:37 AM NHL.com

Meghan Agosta had two goals and an assist in the third period to rally Canada to a 3-2 victory against the United States in preliminary-round action of the 2014 Sochi Olympics women's hockey tournament Wednesday at Shayba Arena.

Hayley Wickenheiser had a goal and an assist for Canada and goaltender Charline Labonte stopped 25 shots.

Anne Schleper had a goal and an assist and Hillary Knight had a goal for the U.S. Jessie Vetter made 28 saves.

The victory gives Canada a 3-0 record in Group A; the United States is 2-1. Each team advanced to the semifinals of the medal round in opposite brackets, set to begin next week.

The U.S. took a 1-0 lead 17:34 into the second period when Knight redirected a quick shot by Schleper into the net for a power-play goal.

Canada scored the first of three unanswered goals 2:21 into the third when Wickenheiser picked up a loose puck in the left circle and fed Agosta for an easy tap-in past Vetter to pull into a 1-1 tie. Less than two minutes later, Wickenheiser gave Canada its first lead when her shot squeezed through Vetter's pads at 3:54.

There was confusion on the play as the whistle seemed to have sounded before the puck crossed the goal line, but referee Anna Eskola consulted with the video goal judge and allowed the goal to stand.

"There's always a lot of pride on the line when we play the U.S.," Wickenheiser told the IIHF website. "Nobody wants to give an edge to the other. It feels like a big game every time we play because we're the two best teams in the sport."

Agosta's second goal came off a breakaway from her blue line to give Canada a 3-1 lead at 14:55.

The U.S. got within 3-2 with 1:05 remaining when Schleper's shot from the left point deflected off of Labonte's glove into the net with Vetter pulled for an extra attacker.

The United States was given a power play when Canada was whistled for having too many players on the ice with 30 seconds left in regulation, giving the U.S. a 6-on-4 advantage with the goalie pulled. However, Labonte and the Canadian defense held on.

"I've been pretty open about the fact that it's great for our game and the fans to have a matchup like this in the preliminary round," U.S. coach Katey Stone told USA Hockey's website. "I think it's a good test. For the players it certainly helps them get their feet wet when it comes to intensity and the environment."

Canada has won the gold in the past three Olympics; the United States has won two silver medals (2002, 2010) and a bronze (2006).

Barring a major upset, the teams are expected to play again Feb. 20 in the gold-medal game.

Finland 4, Switzerland 3 (OT) -- Captain Jenni Hiirikoski scored her second goal 2:38 into overtime off a feed from Linda Valimaki to give Finland the win at Shayba Arena.

"Our forward Valimaki did a pretty good job down there," Hiirikoski told the IIHF website. "I think she was pretty tired but I saw that she was looking for me. I went in and got her pass. It's always nice to score. When you're a defenseman it's not so often."

Hiirikoski and Michelle Karvinen scored goals in the first period to give Finland a 2-0 lead but Switzerland tied the score on second-period goals by Romy Eggimann and Phoebe Stanz. Karvinen scored a power-play goal to give the Finns a 3-2 lead 15:31 into the second.

The Swiss pulled even again when Stefanie Marty scored with 3:35 left in regulatiion.

Finland goalie Noora Raty made 24 saves and Switzerland's Florence Schelling stopped 30 shots. Raty, considered the best goalie in the tournament, went 38-0-0 with an 0.96 goals-against average and .956 save percentage as a senior at the University of Minnesota last season and was a top three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award.

Finland and Switzerland advanced to the quarterfinals of the medal round in opposite brackets against teams to be determined.

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