It’s been 3,068 days since the last time Canada beat Team USA at the Women’s World Championship, but the Canadians finally snapped that streak in convincing fashion. They skated away with a dominant 5-1 win over their American rivals in the final game of the preliminary round for Group A.
Here’s how it all went down, starting with the victors:
From the moment the puck dropped on Thursday’s game, it felt like a matchup the Canadians had spent years preparing for. Team Canada got the jump on Team USA from the first shift, and they didn’t really let up until this game was all but decided.
Mélodie Daoust got the scoring started about seven minutes into the game, after a few minutes of heavy pressure in the offensive zone from her team. Renata Fast quickly tacked on another after a miscue by the American defense, and just like that, Canada had built up a two-goal lead and carried all the momentum.
They carried that into the second period and promptly doubled that lead off of two goals from Jamie Lee Rattray, who’s making her presence felt this tournament. If Canada has played a more dominant two periods over the past decade or so against Team USA, I can’t remember it. They were firing on all cylinders, with basically every unit holding possession and keeping the Americans on their heels.
They were able to keep the pressure up in the second period to take a 5-0 lead off a great shot on the rush from Sarah Nurse. While that was all the scoring they’d do, Canada looked like the better team for the full 40 minutes to start and did a good job managing it in the final period to close out the W.
CANADA GOAL!— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 26, 2021
In 'n' out, courtesy of Sarah Nurse.
CAN 5 - 0 USA pic.twitter.com/3RS3ndS02T
Particularly impressive about the win is the fact that they did it without captain and first-line center Marie-Philip Poulin. Victoria Bach slotted seamlessly over to center onto that line with Rattray and Brianne Jenner and they hardly seemed to miss a beat; Sarah Fillier and Blayre Turnbull continued their high-level play up the middle, too, so Team USA was never able to expose Poulin’s absence. This is 100% a scenario that Canada was prepared for, and their staff deserves credit for equipping the team to manage it so well.
Goals scored by Canada: Mélodie Daoust, Renata Fast, Jamie Lee Rattray (x2), Sarah Nurse (SH)
This was obviously far from the best performance we’ve seen from Team USA. They struggled to get anything going at all until the third period and never felt close to mounting a comeback.
There are things that can be said for sure about some of their personnel choices, both for this tournament and for centralization as a whole. In my opinion, though, you don’t lose a game in this fashion at a World Championship because of who you started in net or which collegiate forwards you chose to take. It goes well beyond any individual player and even, to an extent, the final score.
Giving up five goals is Not Great but the actual performance was worse, in a way. The Americans looked flat-footed and were beat to pucks all night long. Defensively, there were miscues and several occasions where players failed to get the puck out; when they did, they just couldn’t create many dangerous chances or sustain possession.
But there is room for some nuance here, too. Canada is one of the best teams in the world, for starters. They have the talent and the poise themselves to take a mile if you give them an inch. There were some clear flaws that the Canadians were able to exploit, but I don’t think it’s anything that’s not fixable. The U.S. coaching staff just needs to make the proper adjustments to shore up what was breaking down tonight systemically.
And as a positive, they were definitely able to settle things down in the third. Lee Stecklein snapped the shutout about three minutes in to at least get the U.S. on the board. And they didn’t face anywhere near the same onslaught of Canadian shots; they looked more comfortable with the puck to close out the game. There is definite room for improvement here for this team to work with.
Goals scored by USA: Lee Stecklein
TIG’s Players of the Game
These are not the same as the IIHF’s Players of the Game. This honor is based on performance and also vibes.
Canada: Jamie Lee Rattray
USA: Kelly Pannek
Finland defeats Switzerland, 6-0
Japan vs. Germany, coming up at 9:30 ET
None! Tomorrow is an off day before we get into quarterfinal action on Saturday. Two of the matchups are already set: Finland vs. the Czech Republic and Russia vs. Switzerland.
With the victory, Canada wrapped up first place in Group A and will face the loser of tonight’s Germany-Japan matchup in the quarterfinals. Team USA takes second place and will face that game’s winner.