ST. PAUL, Minn. — Hilary Knight scored the lone shootout goal and the United States women’s hockey team beat Canada for the third consecutive time in their pre-Olympic exhibition series, 3-2 on Saturday.
Jessie Vetter stopped all three Canadian shootout attempts.
“This is good for us. We need to find a way to win,” U.S. defenseman Megan Bozek said.
Kelli Stack and Alex Carpenter scored for the United States in regulation, and Meghan Agosta-Marciano and Marie-Philip Poulin countered for Canada.
After losing three in a row to Canada, the Americans have won the past three meeting by a combined 12-4 – 5-1 and 4-1 in the two previous games.
“We like all kinds of different scenarios. Unfortunately, the puck wasn’t bouncing as easily it was earlier this month,” said Knight, who also had two assists. “We’re an extremely talented team, but we still have a long way to go and we’re going to get there. We’re confident with our game plan.”
The teams will wrap up the exhibition series Monday night in Toronto.
The Americans and Canadians are widely considered the Olympic favorites. Canada has won three consecutive gold medals.
United States coach Katey Stone likes that the shootout is entertaining for the fans, but is more pleased about how it made her team rise to the occasion.
“It puts our kids on the hot seat, it puts their kids on the hot seat and it’s time to execute and deliver,” Stone said. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Although the game was physical — six of the 15 penalties were for checking, roughing or charging — the game did not feature the late-game fisticuffs that has recently become part of the series.
When the teams met eight days earlier in Grand Forks, N.D., a melee in the final seconds to play resulted in 10 fighting majors and a string of other infractions. All 10 skaters on the ice also squared off in an October game in Burlington, Vt. They had another big scrap in 2010.
“I don’t think there was any less intensity tonight, but it was directed towards the game instead of anything else,” said Canada coach Kevin Dineen, who has been in charge for less than two weeks. Former coach Dan Church abruptly stepped down Dec. 12, the day of the Americans’ 5-1 win in Calgary, Alberta.
“At the end, I’m not reinventing things and they’re still playing very well,” Dineen said. “Tonight was a little snapshots of things that we’ve talked about since we’ve been here that we’re starting to see.”
Trailing 2-0 after two periods, the Canadians rallied. Agosta-Marciano scored off a faceoff midway through the third period, and Poulin tied it 1:14 later on a power play.
Stack scored in the first and Carpenter had a power-play goal with 8.3 seconds left in the second.
“We came out a little flat and they took it to us right away,” Poulin said. “We have one more game against them and for sure we’ll start better.”