Canada gets quick goal in OT to beat U.S. women (video)

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Great goaltending on both ends of the ice was the story through regulation as Team USA and Canada battled into overtime at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota on Sunday as the two best women’s hockey teams in the world prepare to finalize their 2018 Olympic rosters for PyeongChang in February.

With the score tied 1-1, Canada’s Brianne Jenner wristed a shot past Team USA goaltender Maddie Rooney just 37 seconds into the overtime period, stunning the U.S. with the 2-1 win. Canada’s Rebecca Johnston was awarded the assist.

Per IIHF rules, overtime was played 3-on-3 with both teams electing to put two forwards and one defender on the ice.

The 20-year-old Rooney was a solid backstop for the U.S. throughout the game making 24 saves on 26 shots from Canada. Team Canada’s two-time Olympic gold medal winning goalie Shannon Szabados made her pre-Olympic tour debut, giving up just one goal and stopping 27 shots.

It was the fifth time the two teams have played since starting their pre-Olympic tour in October. The record still tilts in favor of the U.S., 3-2. The U.S. also holds the advantage in goals, scoring 16 to Canada’s 12.

After a scoreless first period, the U.S. opened the second period on the power play. A shot by Team USA’s Megan Keller appeared to redirect off the skates of a teammate, on its way into the net and past Szabados for the first goal of the game.

Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin tied it up with an even strength goal with roughly two minutes left in the second period.

At the second intermission the U.S. led Canada in shots, 23-14, but in the third period the Canadian attack, bolstered by three U.S. penalties, came alive, as the Canadians put 12 shots on net to just five by the U.S.

The two teams now head to Winnipeg for a Tuesday night game at Bell MTS Place, with the puck dropping at 8 p.m. ET.

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New generation of male figure skaters owns spotlight at worlds; preview

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Nobody in the men’s field at figure skating worlds owns an Olympic or world title for the first time since 1985. This could lead to the best U.S. men’s results in years.

Yuzuru HanyuJavier Fernandez and Patrick Chan combined to win every gold medal since 2011, but all of them ended their seasons at the Olympics.

This week in Milan, the four leading men, who just competed in their first Olympics, are all 20 years or younger. And that includes two Americans.

Nathan Chen can become the first world singles champion from the U.S. since Evan Lysacek in 2009. Chen and Vincent Zhou could be the first U.S. men to finish in the top five together since Lysacek and Johnny Weir in 2005. Chen, Zhou and Max Aaron could make up the best U.S. trio at a worlds in more than 20 years.

Start with Chen. The 18-year-old said he planned to compete this week regardless of what happened at the Olympics, but after his struggles in the team event and individual short programs, the quad master nailed his free skate, came home to California and said he took maybe one day off of training before this event.

Chen is one of three men in the gold-medal hunt, along with Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan and world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China. While Chen largely struggled at the 2017 Worlds and in PyeongChang, Uno and Jin each made the podium at both events. And each can come close to or equal Chen in quad numbers.

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Zhou, 17, has a chance to become the youngest man to earn a world medal since Hanyu in 2012. Or the first man to win the world junior title one season and make the world senior podium the next since Yevgeny Plushenko in 1997-98.

Zhou is riding momentum. He struggled in the fall and entered nationals in January ranked fifth among Americans for the season. He placed third to make the Olympic team and then landed three clean quads in his Olympic free skate to jump from 12th to sixth.

“I did better there than a lot of people thought I would,” Zhou told NBC Sports research last week. “I knew I was capable of that all season.

“I want to reach my ultimate goal of being Olympic champion, and my best chance is in 2022 … because by 2026 I will probably be old and creaky with four prosthetic limbs.”

Aaron made it to Milan after Olympian Adam Rippon gave up his spot, and the top two alternates (Jason Brown and Ross Miner) both declined. Still, Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, is seeded seventh in the men’s field based on top scores this season.

NBC Sports figure skating researcher Sarah Hughes contributed to this report.

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Carolina Kostner the sentimental favorite at figure skating worlds

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Olympic champion Alina Zagitova is without question the favorite at this week’s world figure skating championships, especially after the sprightly Russian’s training partner and rival Yevgenia Medvedeva withdrew because of injury.

She won’t be the sentimental favorite, though.

That would be Carolina Kostner, the ageless Italian star who could be competing at worlds for the last time on home soil. The 2012 champion and six-time world medalist seemed to indicate that retirement could be looming after she finished fifth at the PyeongChang Games, where she was chosen to carry the Italian flag at the Closing Ceremony.

Kostner will have a huge home crowd behind her when the event begins Wednesday in Milan.

“Decisions like that should never be taken in a hot moment. It will come naturally,” said Kostner, who no longer can compete with the sport’s high-fliers when it comes to technical marks, but whose elegant artistry and presentation often make up the difference.

“She is an example of perseverance, of a long-lasting athlete,” Medvedeva said. “I have trouble imagining how someone can stay in that shape for a very long time. When you see people like Carolina, you understand that if she can do something, then that something is possible. If you love what you do, you put all of yourself into it, like Carolina Kostner.”

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When asked about retirement, Kostner brought up her cousin, Isolde Kostner, who won three Olympic Alpine skiing medals before deciding to step away from competition.

“She stopped skiing shortly before the (2006) Olympics in Italy,” Caroline Kostner said. “Many did not understand why she wouldn’t pull through because it was her home country, and she said, ‘You will feel strongly when it is time to stop.’ And I haven’t felt it yet.”

The biggest story at the world championships in an Olympic year tends to be who is missing rather than who shows up. The grind of competing for an entire season builds toward the quadrennial event, and athletes who medal or intend to retire rarely press on to worlds. Then there are the injuries, which accumulate during the year.

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