Hockey

Fillier's winner lifts Canada to 2nd-straight win over U.S. in pre-Olympic exhibition

Sarah Fillier scored twice, including the go-ahead goal with 3:58 remaining, and Canada beat the United States 3-2 in Game 2 of the rivals' nine-game pre-Olympic series on Monday night in Hartford, Conn.

Rivalry series continues Nov. 21 in Kingston, Ont.

Canada's Sarah Fillier, shown in this file photo in the 2021 IIHF women's world championship gold medal game, scored twice in a 3-2 win over the U.S. in the second f the rivals' nine-game pre-Olympic series on Monday in Hartford, Conn. (Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Amanda Kessel isn't panicking after the United States women's hockey team opened its pre-Olympic series with two straight losses to rival Canada.

"This is the best that I think our team has felt," said Kessel, who scored the tying goal as the Americans rallied from a 2-0 deficit before losing 3-2 on Monday night in Hartford, Conn. "We have a really good thing going on inside of our locker room. I'm really confident in our group and I really think that things are coming together inside of our locker room and it is going to show."

A good place to start would be figuring out how to contain Canada's Sarah Fillier.

In a heated rivalry dating to the U.S. beating Canada for gold in the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, a newcomer is making her presence felt.

The 21-year-old Fillier, who is delaying her junior season at Princeton, was unaccounted for in scoring a pair of backdoor tap-ins, including the game-winner with 3:58 remaining. Fillier, who also scored in the series-opening 3-1 win at Allentown, Pa., has six goals and nine points in nine games with the national team since making her debut at the world championships in August.

"She just has a niche for the net, and getting around the net, and finding those spots where she can be successful," linemate Natalie Spooner said. "I mean, she's a natural goal-scorer. ... She's able to find those soft spots and get pucks in."

WATCH | Fillier scores twice, pots winner as Canada tops U.S.:

Sarah Fillier scores a pair as Canada defeats USA

1 month ago
0:49
Game two saw Canada defeat USA 3-2 Monday night in Hartford, Connecticut during a nine-game pre-Olympic series. 0:49

The nine-game series between the teams resumes at Kingston, Ontario, on Nov. 21.

Victoria Bach also scored and Renee Desbiens stopped 18 shots. The Canadians won gold over the Americans at the world championships and have won four straight against the U.S. — their best run since a five-game streak from Dec. 3, 2017 to Feb. 15, 2018.

Cayla Barnes had a goal and an assist and Nicole Hensley stopped 17 shots for the U.S.

An intense and sometimes chippy game was decided on an undisciplined high-sticking call against U.S. veteran defender Megan Keller, who cross-checked a Canadian player during a scrum near the benches.

Brianne Jenner set up the goal by driving into the right circle and feeding a wide-open Fillier, who swept in the puck at the left post. It was a mirror image of Fillier's first two goals of the series, with both coming on tap-ins.

"She's a talented, fast forward that you have to be aware of," U.S. defender Barnes said. "But we don't play her any differently than we play anyone else."

Though he had not seen a replay, U.S. coach Joel Johnson downplayed Keller's penalty.

"I'm not worried about Megan Keller. She's one of the best players in the world," Johnson said. "I trust our players and you know, there's times people take poor penalties. I'm not worried about if it was a good or bad penalty."

The Americans, who gave up two goals on Canada's first two shots on net on Monday, have yet to enjoy a lead in the two games.

"I think it shows a lot about who we are and who we are trying to be," Johnson said. "Obviously, we don't want a slow start like that but the way we responded is important and we have to find that in the beginning of every game."

The world's top women's hockey powers are preparing for the Beijing Winter Games in February, with the Americans attempting to defend their 2018 gold medal. Five of their past eight meetings have been decided by one goal.

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