Hockey

Marie-Philip Poulin paces Canada over Finland in women's hockey worlds opener

Ann-Renee Desbiens became the first Canadian goaltender to face, and stop, a penalty shot at the women's world hockey championship in a 4-1 win over Finland to open the tournament Thursday.

Canadian captain records 2 points in 4-1 win

Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin, seen here during the 2021 IIHF Women's World Championship, opened the 2022 tournament with two points in a 4-1 win over Finland in Herning, Denmark on Thursday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Ann-Renee Desbiens became the first Canadian goaltender to face, and stop, a penalty shot at the women's world hockey championship in a 4-1 win over Finland to open the tournament Thursday.

The 28-year-old from Clermont, Que., preserved Canada's 2-1 lead when she stopped Kira Yrjanen on a penalty shot in the last second of the first period.

"That was huge," defender Meagan Mikkelson said. "I said, right when they called the penalty shot, I turned to Jocelyne Larocque on the bench and said 'she's got this.' She lives for these moments."

Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Nurse each had goal and an assist for Canada, which is the defending champion having won the title a year ago in Calgary.

Mikkelson also scored and Blayre Turnbull added an empty-net goal at Kvik Hockey Arena. Desbiens stopped 16, shots including the penalty shot at a pivotal juncture in the game.

With her right pad, Desbiens repelled Yrjanen who skated in, backed into the Canadian goalie and then spun for a forehand try.

WATCH | Canada tops Finland to open tournament:

Canada opens up women's worlds with a win over Finland

1 month ago
Duration 2:32
Canada kicked off the IIHF women's world championship tournament with a win, defeating Finland 4-1 Thursday.

"Definitely a move you don't see too often in a game. Probably something more you see in practice," Desbiens said. "You've just got to stay patient, see which way she's going to go. Is she going to just shoot backhand and pull it on her forehand?"

Desbiens was unaware she'd executed a hockey first in her country's history in the tournament.

"It think it was more important for me to just make that top and have that lead after the first period," Desbiens said. "I love penalty shots. I love shootouts in practice. I think the girls know I love those moments, so I was ready for it."

Canada faces Switzerland on Saturday and Japan on Sunday in back-to-back Pool A games. The Japanese opened with a 10-0 loss to the United States on Thursday.

Hungary doubled Germany 4-2 and Sweden beat host Denmark 5-2 in Pool B games.

'We're not happy with the way we played at all'

Julia Likala scored Thursday for the Finns, who were bronze medallists last year in Calgary. Finnish goaltender Anni Keisala, who was named the 2021 championship's top goalie, made 39 saves in the loss.

"We're not happy with the way we played at all," said Canadian head coach Troy Ryan. "Our first [period] wasn't great, we were pleased with our second and the third was probably somewhere between the two, but it is the first game."

Finland travelled fewer time zones to get to Herning, Denmark, than Canada, but was hampered by both a 1-for-5 power play and the ejection of top forward Petra Nieminen early in the first period for checking from behind.

"Of course she's a big player for us, but it's hockey," said Finland captain Jenni Hiirikoski, who is playing in a record 14th world championship.

"We started really good and we had really good fighting spirit today, but small things we need to adjust and do better. Also better scoring."

Finland's power play couldn't convert almost four straight minutes with an extra player — including a dozen seconds of five-on-three — into a goal at the end of the second period and the start of the third.

Mikkelson chipped in a rebound from an Ella Shelton shot for a 3-1 Canada lead at 13:01 of the second period.

The 37-year-old defender has returned to the national team after surgery and rehabilitation of a knee injury kept her out of February's Winter Olympics. Mikkelson scored her first goal since the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"It felt amazing more so because it put us up 3-1," she said. "It felt good to put on in the back of the net, especially my first game back in quite a while."

Poulin scored the eventual winner at 14:51 of the first period. The captain skated the puck across the blue line and beat Keisala far side with a quick release for a 2-1 lead.

Likala pulled the Finns even in the final seconds of a Canadian penalty at 12:07 when she poked in a rebound during a goalmouth scramble.

Five minutes after the opening puck drop, Nieminen was slapped with a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking Canada's Kristin O'Neill from behind.

Nurse scored a power-play goal 7:38 from the slot where she redirected a Poulin pass over Keisala's glove.

The host Finns upset Canada 4-2 in the 2019 world championship semifinals in Espoo and went on to lose the final to the U.S. in a shootout. Canada has gone 5-0 against them since then.

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