Canada opens defence of Olympic women's hockey gold with 5-0 win over Russians
Melodie Daoust (15), of Canada, celebrates her goal against the team from Russia with teammates during the third period of the preliminary round of the women's hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, February 11, 2018 9:40AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 11, 2018 11:53AM EST
PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of -- Built with an emphasis on scoring goals, the Canadian women's hockey team opened defence of Olympic gold Sunday with a 5-0 win over Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Canada's roster in Pyeongchang includes 14 forwards and six defenders, instead of 13 and seven, indicating a push for more firepower in a bid for a fifth straight Olympic title.
It took a period for Canada's attack to kick in before Rebecca Johnston led the charge with a pair of goals and an assist. Melodie Daoust also scored twice and Haley Irwin contributed a goal.
"We did a really good job at creating chances and they're just going to keep going in for us for sure," Johnston said.
Captain Marie-Philip Poulin assisted on three goals. Canadian starter Ann-Renee Desbiens posted an 18-save shutout in her Olympic debut.
"It's real nice to get it out the way," said the 23-year-old from La Malbaie, Que.
"The first few shots were really exciting, maybe a little too much a little bit, but I feel I settled in as the game went on.
"It's been a dream to wear this jersey forever so it's nice to get the start and make it finally come true."
Nadezhda Morozova stopped 33 of 38 shots in the Russian net.
She was replaced after Canada's fifth goal by Nadezhda Alexandrova, who stopped all 10 in relief in front of an announced 3,912 at the Kwangdong Hockey Centre.
Russian athletes are competing in Pyeongchang under the clunky label "Olympic Athletes from Russia" or OAR, as part of the International Olympic Committee's punishment for alleged state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Games.
Russian athletes are competing in neutral colours without their flag or anthem.
The women's hockey team wore white jerseys with red sleeves. The words "Olympic Athlete" and their numbers were on the front.
"You don't really notice when you're in the game, you're in the moment," Poulin said. "We know the Olympic Athletes of Russia, we respect (them) a lot.
"Good for them they have a team here. They have a great team and they showed it tonight."
The public address announcer addressed the team as "Team Olympic Athlete from Russia."
Eight women from the 2014 Russian women's hockey team were initially banned from all future Olympic Games before the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned five of those sanctions on appeal.
CAS ruled that in three cases, the IOC had provided enough evidence of a doping violation. Three players were ruled ineligible to compete in Pyeongchang, instead of a life ban.
"It didn't affect the spirit of the team," coach Alexei Chistyakov said. "If they were present here, it would have contributed to the play and maybe contribute to resisting the onslaught of the Canadian team in a better way."
Puck drop wasn't until 9:10 p.m. local time, and after a scoreless first period, Canada began wearing down the OAR defence.
Daoust swept in a rebound at 10:44 of the third for her second goal after Johnston snapped a sharp-angled shot by Morozova for a power-play goal at 8:41.
Daoust flipped the puck over her pad at 15:58 of the second. Irwin tipped a Johnston shot home at 4:13.
Johnston opened the scoring for Canada at 1:55, when she rifled home a shot from the slot on a behind-the-net feed from Brianne Jenner.
"We felt like the Olympic Athletes from Russia were getting a little tired there and it was important for us to keep our foot on the gas pedal and not be satisfied with the amount of goals we had after the second, but to try and keep plugging away and get some more in the third," Canadian head coach Laura Schuler said.
The United States beat Finland 3-1 earlier in Pool A play. Canada faces the Finns on Tuesday and concludes the preliminary round Wednesday against the Americans.
The top two teams in Pool A earn byes to the semifinals. The bottom play quarter-finals against the top two teams in Pool B.
Japan and Switzerland are 1-0 in Pool B, while Sweden and combined Koreas are 0-1.