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U.S. blanks Canada in women’s world hockey opener

Jennifer Wakefield of Canada skates past Monique Lamoureux of the United States at the 2017 IIHF Womans World Championships.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The United States shook off the drama of the days leading up to the women's world hockey championship by beating Canada 2-0 to open the tournament Friday.

The Americans lacked Canada's preparation with just two practices together and no pretournament games while they negotiated for more financial support from USA Hockey.

The host country didn't report to training camp and had threatened to boycott the tournament if their federation didn't co-operate.

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Brianna Decker and Gigi Marvin scored for the defending champions in front of a full house in the 3,500-seat international-sized rink at USA Hockey Arena.

Nicole Hensley collected an 18-save shutout for the United States, while Canadian counterpart Shannon Szabados stopped 26 of 28 shots.

Marvin threaded a shot through traffic from the point and got a deflection at 4:49 of the third to beat Szabados low stick side.

The United States also scored at 17:54 of the second period. Decker tapped in a pass from Megan Bozek, who skated the puck into Canada's zone and circled behind the net before feeding her teammate.

The Americans carried a 20-9 margin in shots into the third period, but the Canadians had their chances to strike first.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin hit the post five minutes into the second period and Meghan Agosta put a backhand off the post on a partial breakaway with seven minutes remaining.

The United States takes on Russia (1-0) followed by Canada versus Finland (0-1) in Saturday's Pool A Games.

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The host team was greeted warmly with chants of "U.S.A." and the waving of numerous stars and stripes flags.

The Canadians had a week-long training camp, including a pair of exhibition games against boys' teams in Leamington, Ont.

After picking up a pair of wins against the United States in December's two-game exhibition series, Szabados kept the visitors in the game early while they were badly outshot.

The 30-year-old from Edmonton is playing her first international tournament with the Canadian women since her 27-save performance in the Olympic women's hockey final in 2014.

She spent just over two seasons playing men's pro hockey in the Southern Professional Hockey League.

Canada lacked the attack of the December series when they scored a combined eight goals over two games.

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In the other Pool A game, Yekaterina Smolentseva scored a power-play goal with 50 seconds remaining to lift Russia to a 2-1 win over Finland.

The Finns didn't play get a scheduled exhibition game against the United States because of the dispute between the players and their federation.

Russia was without forwards Olga Sosina and Anna Shokhina serving one-game suspensions for their match penalties in an exhibition game Tuesday against Switzerland.

Sosina, Russia's leading scorer in last year's world championship, was penalized for kicking a player, while Shokhina took a tripping penalty 69 seconds before the end of regulation time.

In Pool B, promoted Germany upset Sweden 3-1 and Switzerland edged the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout.

The top two teams in that pool play the bottom two from Pool A in the quarter-finals. The top two teams in Pool A earn byes to the semifinals.

The medal games will be played April 7.

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