The Canadians outshot Japan, 60-11, and now take over first place in Group A with nine points. Japan stays in fourth with one point courtesy of an overtime loss to Czechia and a record of 0-0-1-2. Both teams now have a day off before resuming on Monday night. Japan will face Switzerland and then the showdown fans across the hockey world have been waiting for—Canada-United States, likely to decide top spot in the group.
"We’re getting better every period, every game, and now we’re just looking forward to the next game," said Canada's captain, Marie-Philip Poulin. "We’re trying to focus on habits. Sure, we had 60 shots and we could have had a couple of more goals, but they have a great team and good goalies, so we just have to keep pounding next game. I think our team has been fast, and our opponents are having trouble getting away from our forecheck and creating turnovers. It’s important to get that forecheck and be physical right away."
"At the start, we spent a lot of time in the defensive zone, but as the game went on, I think it was important for us to stay positive," said Japan's Akane Hosoyamada. "It was going to be a tough game coming in, so I think it was important for us to stay positive and I think that's what ended up being really good for us. We're really optimistic about coming in to every game. Just challenging ourselves, believing in ourselves and just knowing that we belong here. We just want to improve after every game."
Canada now holds a 4-0 all-time record against Japan in World Women's play, with a goals differential of 41-0. Although the outcome never seemed in doubt, Japan's resilience was impressive. Tonight's score was by far the closest betwen the two teams (9-0 the previous "closest").
Tonight's shutout was recorded by the 28-year-old Emerance Maschmeyer, who was making her 11th career appearance in goal for Canada and first of 2023. It was her fifth career blank sheet.
Marie-Philip Poulin recorded two assists to give her 69 career WW points, moving into fifth place on the all-time list behind only Hilary Knight (93), Hayley Wickenheiser (86), Jayne Hefford (83), and Cammi Granato (78).
"We’re really focused on the process and establishing a game plan against every team and make some tweaks along the way," said Brianne Jenner, who opened the scoring for Canada. "I thought our start was great tonight. We took the wind out of their sails early."
"This was a very positive game for us," said Japan's coach Yuji Iizuka. "Last summer in Denmark we lost 9-0 to Canada and we talked about it before the game. Tonight, we made great progress, and we’re happy about that. We also showed progress in our game against the U.S. We’ve been playing better and better."
The hosts thought they had opened the scoring in the second minute, but video review overturned Blayre Turnbull’s goal because of a teammate in the crease. No matter. Captain Poulin set up the first goal in style at 3:56. She danced around one player, did a spin by the side of the goal, and found Brianne Jenner in front. Jenner converted a pass that was impossible not to convert it was so perfect.
Canada made it 2-0 at 8:03 when Sarah Fillier knocked in a shot from the slot while falling to the ice. The team was simply in command from start to finish, moving the puck with confidence, claiming every loose puck, and hemming Japan in its own end for sustained periods. Shots were 26-1 for Canada, the only shot for Japan coming in the final minute and steered aside easily by Maschmeyer.
Japan played a resilient second, still fighting to get the puck out over their blue line and into the Canadian end, but bend as they might, they didn’t break. Canada added to its tally early on when Sarah Nurse tipped in a long shot from Erin Ambrose. Iizuka made his usual goaltending change near the midway mark of the period and game, bringing on Riko Kawaguchi.
Kawaguchi surrendered one goal near the end of the period, that on a nice play by Jamie Lee Rattray, who fed Natalie Spooner going hard to the net. Spooner tipped the pass past the goalie, but it hit the post and bounced off her back and in at 18:35 to make it 4-0.
Filler added her second of the night at 16:41 of the third, knocking in her own rebound. The shots were a reflection of puck possession, to be sure, but Japan played with a confidence that perhaps it feels it has earned by being in the top group. Regardless, it was an inspired performance in a loss to the World and Olympic champions.