March 29, 2016

KAMLOOPS, British Columbia (AP) The United States was once again too much for Canadian goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer.

Hilary Knight had two goals and Brianna Decker scored the winner to help the US begin its title defense at the women's world hockey championship with a 3-1 victory over Canada on Monday night.

Knight's even-strength goal tied it 1-1 with 10:02 to play, and Decker scored a power-play goal about 4 minutes later. Knight added an empty-netter with 20 seconds left.

''It took a while for our power play to get going,'' Decker said. ''Obviously we had a lot of chances throughout the night.

''If you look at all the units, they all can capitalize whenever. It's nice to have four lines that can be on the power play at any time. We use that depth to our advantage.''

Laura Fortino scored for Canada 14 seconds into the third period.

Alex Rigsby stopped 22 shots for the Americans, and Maschmeyer had 36 saves.

It was the third straight solid start by Maschmeyer against the US that ended in a Canadian defeat. The 21-year-old stopped 30 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss to the US in the final last year, and that followed a 27-save performance in a 3-0 loss in the preliminary round.

''It's always disappointing getting a loss, especially against the U.S.,'' Maschmeyer said. ''It's frustrating, but we're going to use this as momentum and we're going to get them when it counts.''

In other preliminary-round games, Finland beat Russia 5-3, Switzerland beat Japan 4-2 and Sweden beat the Czech Republic 3-2.

Canada faces Russia and the U.S. takes on Finland on Tuesday.

Both countries went with their younger, less experienced goaltenders in the opener.

Maschmeyer, 21, was given the nod over Charline Labonte for her third career start against the Americans. Rigsby, 24, started for the US ahead of Jessie Vetter.

Decker banged in a rebound from the high slot after Maschmeyer's initial save on Monique Lamoureux's blast from the point.

Knight pulled the U.S. even with a wrist shot that deflected off Canadian defenseman Halli Krzyzaniak's stick and beat Maschmeyer low glove side.

After two scoreless periods and with the US holding a 24-13 edge in shots, Fortino beat Rigsby high stick side from the high slot in front of a full house at the 5,400-seat Sandman Centre.

''There's no medal being given out tonight from that game, so we've got to keep going and focus on the next game,'' Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin said.

The US power play was 44 percent successful at last year's world championship in Malmo, Sweden, where they scored three power-play goals in the final en route to a 7-5 win over Canada.

The Canadians had a pair of key penalty kills in this one before giving up the winner during the third.

Canada stopped the Americans on a two-man advantage early in the first period. Overlapping penalties to start the second had Canada short-handed for almost 4 minutes.

''You can't ignore how good their power play is. I'm proud of our girls how they performed on the kill,'' Canadian coach Laura Schuler said. ''We've just got to find a way of putting the puck in the net more 5-on-5 and continue to work on building momentum we generated off our kill.''

The hosts generated the bulk of their scoring chances in the middle of the opening period. Momentum swung to the US in the final minutes, though, and the visitors headed to the dressing room up 12-6 in shots on goal.

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