OTTAWA – Hilary Knight broke a scoreless tie at 13:55 of the third period to send the U.S. on their way to a 3-0 win over Finland. The win puts the USA in the gold-medal game and the Finns in the bronze game.
The goal came as a result of a nice passing play with Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel, Knight finishing the play with a spin in the slot and a backhand that just squirted through the pads of goalie Noora Raty, who was sensational in the Finnish goal.
"It's always nice to score a goal when your team needs it most," Knight said. "We're happy that got the tide rolling and we were able to put in a couple more."
Monique Lamoureux added a power-play goal two minutes later, ending the possibility of a Finnish "ihme" (miracle) on ice. Brianna Decker added an empty netter to finish the scoring.
Jessie Vetter stopped just 11 shots for the shutout. Raty faced 48 U.S. shots.
The Americans dominated the first 40 minutes in a way that suggested a lead of 5-0 or 6-0 would not be unexpected. There was only one reason this wasn’t the score line—Raty.
"We always believed with persistence we could get one by her," Amanda Kessel said of Raty. "We knew we had to stay positive and just keep shooting."
In the first period Raty was deked down and out by a patient Jocelyne Lamoureux but made a lunging glove save, and she later made a nice series of saves after some fine passing between Lyndsey Fry, Alex Carpenter, and Anne Schleper.
"We knew it would be tough to score against "Ratsy"," Knight said. "She's a great goaltender. "At the same time, we knew we'd put the puck in the net. It was just a matter of time."
Not so fast.
The second period was dominated by penalties, but the Finns not only killed off two situations of three-on-five, they came dangerously close to opening the scoring. With about seven minutes left in the second, and teams playing four aside, Michelle Karvinen undressed defenceman Gigi Marvin and ripped a wicked shot off the crossbar that stayed out. Video review confirmed the closeness of the play, but the call of “no goal” was the correct one.
Raty continued to be sensational but saved her best for last. With just 3.2 seconds left in the middle period she robbed Hilary Knight from in close, and the frustrated Americans had a little pushing and shoving session with the Finns at the whistle which resulted in a Finnish power play.
Shots in the second were 24-3 (34-8 over two periods), but the score was 0-0. The Finns were short-handed 9:24 through the first two periods compared to just 2:00 for the Americans, but the Suomi penalty killers, led by Raty, were nothing short of sensational.
That set up a most interesting third period, but after nearly 14 more minutes without a goal, Knight struck a dagger into Finland's gold-medal game hopes.
"We didn't have any pressure on us. It was all on them," Finland's Michelle Karvinen noted. "We had a really good feeling going out for the third period, but things just didn't go our way. We have one more game left, so we're going to give everything we have tio get a medal."