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Hilary Knight, goaltenders shine as Team USA opens Rivalry Series with win

Knight scored the lone goal as USA shuts out Canada.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 13
Les Canadiennes’ Hilary Knight scored the game winning goal in the opening game of the Canada-US Rivalry Series on Tuesday night.
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In the first game of the Rivalry Series, a three game series pitting Team Canada against rival Team USA, seven members of Les Canadiennes took the ice to represent their respective countries.

Erin Ambrose, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Geneviève Lacasse, Emerance Maschmeyer, Marie-Philip Poulin and Jillian Saulnier suited up for Team Canada to take on teammate Hilary Knight’s Team USA.

It was a special night for Bettez in particular as it marked her first ever competition with the Canadian National Team, something she has definitely earned considering her consistent performance with Les Canadiennes. Bettez currently has 44 points on the season, matching her career high from 2015-2016.

The first period opened in true Canada vs. USA fashion with high intensity from the opening face off to the final whistle. Both teams fought to be first on the puck, with strong forechecking coming from Team USA. Canada offset their opponents forecheck with a few strong scoring chances.

Bettez had her shot at a scoring chance as Calgary’s Rebecca Johnston picked the puck up off a neutral zone turnover, putting it up to her to put the puck on net, stopped by USA goaltender Alex Rigsby.

As the period progressed, fans were treated to some of the hostility that’s been brewing between the teams over the last few years. USA’s Megan Bozek and Canada’s Halli Krzyzaniak were the first to exchange blows as the final moments of the first frame wound down, sending both teams into the second with four players on the ice, the score stuck at 0-0.

This game turned out to be a battle of the goalies, with Maschmeyer and Rigsby both looking outstanding throughout all three frames. Maschmeyer and Rigsby have met five times this season in the CWHL, with Rigsby leading 3-2 going into this sixth game.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin opened the second with an offensive chance for Team Canada off the face off only to be shut down by Rigsby. Rigsby has been a wall for Calgary this season — she currently posts a .925 save percentage in the CWHL — and it was no different in Tuesday’s game.

It was the Americans who drew first blood late in the second period with Hilary Knight pouncing on a loose puck and putting one past Maschmeyer. The Canadiennes’ goaltender made 20 saves on 21 shots.

Team Canada headed into the second intermission down 1-0, and seemed to take this to heart as they came out with renewed energy in the third period. Canada looked to be the dominant team all throughout, getting constant scoring chances and really testing Rigsby’s skill.

The line of Poulin, Bettez, and Johnston had several strong efforts, but the American goaltender stood tall.

In a final effort, the Canadians pulled Maschmeyer in hopes of evening the score but Rigsby proved to be worth her weight in gold for Team USA, sealing the deal for a 33-save shutout and a 1-0 victory for the Americans.

Canada will have time to regroup before moving on to face Team USA on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Toronto, looking to tie the series.