The U.S. women had to work a lot to beat Finland than they did to win their earlier games against China and Russia at the Winter Olympics, but after a slow start, the Americans polished off the pesky Finns 6-0 on Thursday to win Group B and earn a semifinal berth.
Jessie Vetter stopped 23 shots, including the first penalty shot in women's Olympic hockey history, for the Americans, who outscored their three opponents in group play 31-1. The U.S. will play Sweden in one of Monday's semifinals; Finland (2-0-1-0) will face Group A winner Canada in the other. The winners meet Thursday for the gold medal.
Finland had eight shots on goal in the first 10 minutes, more than the Americans allowed in the full 60 minutes of their 13-0 win over Russia two days earlier. But Vetter stopped them all and the U.S. took control in the second half of the period, getting goals from Julie Chu, Molly Engstrom, Meghan Duggan and Natalie Darwitz for a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes, ending the period with a 20-9 advantage in shots on goal.
Hillary Knight added a goal at 11:48 of the second period, and Karen Thatcher scored with 1:38 remaining.
The rest of the game belonged to Vetter, who had to be sharp as the Americans took five consecutive penalties in a span of just over 13 minutes spanning the second and third periods. Her best save when she got a shoulder on a penalty shot by Anne Helin with 5:43 remaining after Helin was taken down by Darwitz on a breakaway.
Noora Raty made 36 saves for Finland.
In the second game of the night, Russia edged China 2-1 to finish third in Group B with a 1-2-0-0 record. China lost all three of its games.