KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) — Hilary Knight had two goals and Brianna Decker scored the winner to help the United States begin its title defense at the Women’s World Hockey Championship with a 3-1 victory over Canada on Monday night.
Knight’s even-strength goal tied it 1-1 with 10:02 to play, and Decker scored a power-play goal about 4 minutes later. Knight added an empty-netter with 20 seconds left.
Laura Fortino scored for Canada 14 seconds into the third period.
Alex Rigsby stopped 22 shots for the Americans, and Canada’s Emerance Maschmeyer had 36 saves.
In other preliminary-round games, Finland beat Russia 5-3, Switzerland beat Japan 4-2 and Sweden beat the Czech Republic 3-2.
Canada faces Russia and the U.S. takes on Finland on Tuesday.
Both countries went with their younger, less experienced goaltenders in the opener.
Maschmeyer, 21, was given the nod over Charline Labonte for her 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 Monique Lamoureux‘s blast from the point.
Knight pulled the U.S. even with a wrist shot that deflected off Canadian defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak‘s stick and beat Maschmeyer low glove side.
After two scoreless periods and with the U.S. holding a 24-13 edge in shots, Fortino beat Rigsby high stick side from the high slot in front of a full house at the 5,400-seat Sandman Centre.
The U.S. power play was 44 percent 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 had a pair of key penalty kills in this one before giving up the winner during the third.
Canada stopped the Americans on a two-man advantage early in the first period. Overlapping penalties to start the second had Canada short-handed for almost 4 minutes.
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, though, and the visitors headed to the dressing room up 12-6 in shots on goal.