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Knight takes charge as U.S. shuts out ROC to stay unbeaten at 2022 Winter Olympics

Knight takes charge as U.S. shuts out ROC to stay unbeaten at 2022 Winter Olympics
Posted at 11:39 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-05 12:52:36-05

It's been an unfortunate start to the 2022 Winter Olympics for the U.S. women's hockey team. While they beat a solid Finnish squad in their tournament opener by a score of 5-2, they lost star forward Brianna Decker for the remainder of the Olympics due to a lower-body injury.

The loss of Decker is a devastating blow for the Americans. Decker is widely regarded as one of the top women's hockey players in the world and serves as a key veteran presence both on the ice and in the locker room. But in Saturday morning's contest against the ROC — their first full game without Decker in the lineup — the U.S. didn't miss a beat. The Americans took down the Russian athletes 5-0, and they did so pretty easily.

Savannah Harmon broke the ice at the 12:29 mark of the first period off a gorgeous feed from Hilary Knight on the power play. Knight, who's now competing in her fourth straight Olympics, received the puck just outside the goal crease and drew the attention of the ROC penalty killers. Harmon then positioned herself on the doorstep and Knight delivered a perfect backhand feed to set her up for the layup goal. Doesn't get much better than that.

After 20 minutes, the U.S. led the Russian athletes handily in shots on goal with a 19-2 advantage. And had it not been for the strong play of ROC goaltender Maria Sorokina, the score probably would've been much more lopsided.

The U.S. continued its strong play in the middle stanza, outshooting the Russian athletes 17-4 and doubling the lead to 2-0. Unsurprisingly, it was Knight who picked up the second U.S. tally of the morning with a perfect redirection off a Harmon point wrister.

The scoring parade really took off in the final period, though. Grace Zumwinkle joined the scoresheet with her first-ever Olympic goal. Dani Cameranesi delivered a perfect feed to Zumwinkle, who was stationed in the low slot without any ROC defender in position to make a play. Not long after, Jesse Compher scored her first goal as an Olympian as well. And Alex Carpenter, who was a terror against Finland, netted her third goal of the tournament to extend the U.S. lead to 5-0. The Americans weren't about to let this one get more interesting than it needed to be.

The Americans may not have dominated the scoresheet the way Canada has to start the tournament, but they peppered the ROC with a whopping 62 shots on net while only allowing 12 on the day. U.S. netminder Nicole Hensley wasn't tested very often, but she was forced to make a few timely saves and remained perfect throughout the game as she logged the 12-save shutout.

Even without a player as valuable as Decker, the U.S. clearly looks like a team more than capable of returning to the gold medal game.

The Americans will be right back at it with a tilt against the winless Switzerland squad Sunday morning at 8:10 a.m. ET. Their fourth game of the tournament, though, will be a big one. They'll take on Canada Monday night at 11:10 p.m. ET, and you probably won't want to miss it.

Click here to view all the stats from USA's win over Finland, and click here to watch the full event replay from start to finish.

Editor's note: Re-live the game as it unfolded in real time with our live blog updates below.

First period

0:00 - Puck is dropped for USA vs. ROC! The U.S. is wearing their new blue sweaters for the first time at these Olympics while the Russian athletes are rocking their white duds. Somehow, the ROC might be getting the W in the uniform department. Yikes.

4:48 - Kendall Coyne Schofield gets a breakaway, but her scoring bid gets shut down by ROC goaltender Maria Sorokina. Great opportunity for the U.S. captain.

5:27 - The Americans head to their first power play of the game after ROC's Alexandra Vafina gets called for hooking. Nothing doing on the advantage, though.

10:03 - ROC's Valeria Pavlova gets a partial breakaway, but she was unable to get a shot on USA netminder Nicole Hensley as a pair of U.S. defenders were closing in.

11:08 - Yelena Provorova heads to the box for tripping. Kendall Coyne Schofield's strong skating claims yet another soul.

12:29 - Savannah Harmon breaks the ice and gives the U.S. the early 1-0 lead. Heck of a play from Hilary Knight to stave off an ROC defender and feed Harmon, who was waiting on the doorstep.

20:00 - After racing into the U.S. zone, Anna Shokhina fired a puck on net trying to tie the game up at one goal apiece. Unfortunately her shot came long after the clock hit zeroes to end the period. The Americans weren't very stoked about it, so a minor scrum followed at the horn.

Second period

3:18 - 4-on-4 hockey! Hayley Scamurra goes to the box for tripping, and Nina Pirogova joins her in the box for the same offense. Lots of extra ice for both teams to work with.

4:30 - Quality scoring chance for Kendall Coyne Schofield, but Sorokina makes the big pad save to deny her.

6:57 - Huge save by Hensley to keep the ROC off the board. A turnover in the defensive zone led to a dangerous scoring chance for Anna Shokhina, but the U.S. netminder shut the door. Impressive save given how little action she'd seen through the first period.

8:51 - Hilary Knight redirects a Savannah Harmon point shot past Sorokina to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Another impressive play from Knight, who's been making an impact all over the ice throughout the game.

13:30 - Hensley comes up with another big stop, this time on an ROC 3-on-1 rush.

15:37 - Polina Bolgareva heads to the box for cross-checking and the Americans get another power play opportunity. No luck on the advantage, but multiple quality scoring chances.

19:28 - USA's Abbey Murphy sits for an illegal hit. Womp womp.

Third period

1:27 - The ROC began the third period on the power play, but the Americans killed it off to keep them off the scoresheet.

3:57 - First-time Olympian Grace Zumwinkle scores her first Olympic goal off a perfect feed from Dani Cameranesi to give the Americans a 3-0 lead. Huge goal to give the U.S. a bit of a cushion in the homestretch.

6:15 - Another goal from a first-time Olympian! This time it's Jesse Compher finding the back of the net to make it 4-0 in favor of the Americans. U.S. in complete control.

8:44 - Alex Carpenter stays hot after scoring twice against the Finns in the tournament opener to give the U.S. a 5-0 lead. ROC isn't coming back in this one, folks.

9:53 - Maria Batalova sits for tripping. Probably the last thing the ROC needed.

13:37 - Maria Pechnikova caused a stir after taking a boarding penalty, and Abbey Murphy was none too pleased with it. She went to the box as well for roughing.

20:00 - We have ourselves a shutout, folks! Hensley completes the game without allowing a single goal, and the U.S. goes two-for-two in their first pair of games at the Olympics. Very solid showing.