The game was played on the 21st anniversary of the first women’s gold medal game in Olympic hockey at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, which the Americans won 3-1 over Canada.
Canada also defeated the U.S. 4-3 on 14 February while the Americans won the opener of the best-of-three 1-0 on 12 February. With the victory, the Canadians improved to 9-3-0 in their last 12 exhibition meetings with the Americans.
“I think we did a lot of things well,” said Canadian coach Perry Pearn. “The funny part of this is I think when you look at everything except maybe special teams, the first game was a really good game. I think this one rivals it. I think in terms of playing the way we want to play, that certainly was as close to being our best, but like I said, the first game, even though we lost, we did a lot of the things that we did today in that game as well.”
Jenner opened the scoring at 5:40 of the first period, on a power play, beating Alex Rigsby short-side with a slap shot.
Turnbull doubled Canada’s lead at 3:35 of the second re-directing a Jamie Lee Rattray feed past Rigsby.
Canadian forward Laura Stacey finished with three assists in the final two games of the series. The victory was the first for Szabados over the Americans since 17 December 2017.
The three-game series provided coaches and players with an opportunity to evaluate where the team is at, and what improvements need to be made ahead of the Women’s World Championship.
Savannah Harmon thought she’d gotten the Americans on the board when she beat Szabados at 2:23 of the third period, but officials ruled Dana Trivigno had interfered with the Canadian goaltender prior to the puck going in.
The Americans pulled Rigsby with 2:16 remaining in the third, and with 1:33 left, Kendall Coyne Schofield had the U.S.’s best chance, but hit the post.
Rigby made 15 saves in the loss.
“This has been a great week of hockey here during the Rivalry Series," said Bob Corkum, head coach of the U.S. Women's National Team. "Of course we would like to have come out on top here at home in Detroit, but congratulations to Canada on the series win. We look forward to seeing them again at the world championship."
The Americans saw their record versus the Canadians fall to 17-9-2 in their last 28 meetings. The U.S. finished the Rivalry Series with 14 penalties in the three games.
“I think we’ve got some stuff to work on,” said Brianna Decker. “We’ve got to play to our strengths too. Obviously we want a little bit more (offensive) zone time. I think we’re shying away from that, but the way we move the puck, if we can get back to those things and move our feet, move the puck, I think we’re going to be a lot more successful.”
The U.S. took the series opener 1-0 in London, Ontario on 12 February.
Turnbull had Canada’s best chance of the game getting behind the Americans defence and getting a shot off from the face-off circle, but Rigsby made a sprawling save to keep the game scoreless.
Knight finally broke the scoreless tie with 1:40 remaining in the second period poking home a rebound past Canadian starter Emerance Maschmeyer. Hannah Brandt and Harmon picked up the assists on the lone goal of the game.
Canada evened series with a 4-3 win at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on 14 February.
Laura Fortino and Jenner also scored for the Canadians who fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Americans in the gold medal game of the 2018 Olympics.
Rattray scored the eventual game-winner at 7:06 of the third giving Canada a 4-2 lead.
Alex Carpenter, Brandt and Decker had the goals for the U.S. while Katie Burt stopped 26 shots.
With 13 returnees from the 2018 Olympic team, Decker felt the Americans should’ve had a better showing against the Canadians.
“There’s some new faces, but I think we have enough returnees that we can take charge and lead the charge there,” she said. “I put a loss like (Thursday) on us. I think it’s not acceptable for us to take a game off, a period off, take a shift off. I put a lot more on our veteran players. I know we all know we can be better.”
Decker pulled the Americans to within one, at 10:34 of the third period, putting a loose puck past Lacasse in front. However, with Burt on the bench for an extra attacker, the Americans were unable to find the equalizer.
The Canadians and Americans will meet next at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which goes 4-14 April in Espoo, Finland. The U.S. have won gold at four consecutive Women’s World Championships and eight of the last 10 as well as the recent Olympics.
“Any chance we have to win a World Championship we’re going to go out there, work our hardest and do our best,” said Decker, who has five gold medals at the Worlds. “Hopefully I’ll be in Finland and hopefully the rest of the team will be in Finland as well – we’re looking forward to the World Championship.”