Last night the sleeping giant that is Team USA’s offense woke up and made a powerful statement against a deep, talented Finnish team. USA was in control from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer. Robb Stauber’s team outshot Finland 38-14 and dominated puck possession for the vast majority of the contest.
Team USA scored just 2:25 into the first period after forcing Finland into one of its many defensive zone turnovers. Amanda Pelkey worked the puck to captain Meghan Duggan who found Gigi Marvin parked in front of the net. Marvin made no mistake, beating Noora Räty blocker side to secure an early lead. The Americans never looked back.
With just 1:22 left in the first period, Team USA’s forecheck struck again. This time it was Dani Cameranesi who made a perfect read to steal an ill-advised pass by the Finns in the defensive zone. Two blinks after Cameranesi intercepted the puck it was in the back of Finland’s net and USA was up 2-0.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of the first period was the shot ratio. Team USA scored two goals on 11 shots. Team Finland managed just two shots in the period, the first of which got to Maddie Rooney in the first minute of the game. The American women established their dominance early on and kept pouring on the pressure.
The second period was the story of Team USA’s resurrected power play. After putting on the pressure for the first 14 minutes of the period, the USWNT earned a prolonged 5-on-3 power play. The game was on the line, and there was precious little that Räty and her teammates could do against the offensive onslaught.
It was Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson who struck first with a gorgeous one-timer set up by Kelly Pannek to make it a 3-0 game. Lamoureux’s goal took the first power play off the board, but before the second penalty could expire a Hilary Knight deflection gave USA its second power play goal in just 34 seconds.
Any hope of a miracle comeback for the Finns was quickly extinguished when Cameranesi scored USA’s third power play goal of the game just 45 seconds into the third period. Later in the third the Finns finally found their transition game and managed to put some pressure on Rooney — but it was simply too little, too late. Team USA was too fast, too physical, and too hungry for the Finns.
Rooney finished the game with a 14-save shutout, her first in the Olympics. The victory could prove to be crucial to the young goaltender’s confidence, which will be something to keep an eye on heading into Wednesday night’s gold medal game against Canada. But the bigger storyline was USA’s offense putting up five goals against a Finnish Team that had the potential to upset one of the North American powerhouses.
This was exactly the kind of win that Duggan, Knight, Brianna Decker, and company needed before a much-anticipated gold medal game against Canada. Team USA’s confidence is riding high. They are now just hours away from the rematch that they have been craving for the last four years.
The next stop for Finland is a bronze medal showdown against OAR. They are the favorites heading into the game after defeating the Russian team 5-1 in the preliminary stage.