HARTFORD, Conn. – The second game of the “My Why” Tour had everything fans have come to expect from the best USA-Canada women’s hockey rivalry games.
A heated exchange between Hilary Knight and Marie-Philip Poulin? Check.
A fight – rather than a celebration – to close out the third period? Check.
A variety of goals, both beautiful and scrappy? Check.
Canada was the eventual victor, winning 3-2. The result marks Canada’s fourth straight win over the U.S. – a streak that began at the 2021 World Championships.
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The Americans started slowly, conceding two goals before recording a single shot on goal. Just 36 seconds into the first period, Victoria Bach put Canada up 1-0. Less than five minutes later, Sarah Fillier made it 2-0.
The Americans worked their way back, with goals from Cayla Barnes and Amanda Kessel. After the rocky start, U.S. goalie Nicole Hensley finished the night with 17 saves.
With overtime looming, Fillier scored the game winner with four minutes remaining in the third . Fillier, a 21-year-old Princeton student who is aiming to make her Olympic debut this winter, has scored three of Canada’s last six goals.
“She’s a natural goal scorer,” said teammate Natalie Spooner, who has trained with Fillier for over a year. “I think she’s just able to find those soft spots and get pucks in.”
What to expect from the USA-Canada rivalry at the Beijing Olympics
Before the Winter Olympics begin on February 4, the U.S. and Canada will face off at least five more times. While these games will offer both teams a chance to experiment and test their own players, it’s unlikely that they’ll help predict an Olympic champion.
“Our focus is primarily to get better every day and to improve as a team so we’re the best version of ourselves come Beijing,” said Canadian head coach Troy Ryan. “If you look at the history of these events and you look at the history of the results at the Olympics, there’s no positive correlation.”
In recent years, there’s actually been a negative correlation.
Ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the U.S. and Canadian women’s hockey teams met seven times. The U.S. won four of those games, but in the Olympic gold medal game, it was Canada that emerged victorious.
Four years later, Canada won five of eight games in the lead-up to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. But in South Korea, the U.S. claimed its first gold medal since 1998.
“I think if we stick to the game plan, we’ll be just fine,” said Barnes.
These tune-up games will also help both teams finalize their 23-player Olympic rosters. The U.S. women currently have 28 players centralized, while Canada has 29.
Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC