Melodie Daoust and Meghan Agosta each had a goal and an assist to help Canada down Finland 4-1 in Olympic women’s hockey play Tuesday.
The win at the Kwandong Hockey Centre virtually assured Canada (2-0-0) a berth in the semifinals, with one final preliminary-round game remaining against the U.S. on Thursday
The top two in Pool A earn byes to the semifinals. The bottom two play quarter-finals against the top two teams in Pool B.
Canada had its moments both good and bad, looking sloppy on the power play at times.
Marie-Philip Poulin and Jillian Saulnier also scored for Canada as some of the Canadian men’s team watched from the upper tier of the arena.
After a rocky start, the Finns had their chances but could not convert them.
Riikka Valila, Finland’s 44-year-old veteran, scored at 7:17 of the third, stuffing in her own rebound off an athletic Shannon Szabados save following a Canadian defensive letdown. Szabados then stopped Susanna Tapani on a breakaway.
Finnish star Noora Raty had a busy afternoon in the other goal.
Poulin’s goal, which made it 2-0 at 17:11 of the first, needed a video review for confirmation after the referee waved it off. After Jenni Hiirikoski lost the puck in front of goal, Poulin roofed a backhand that came out as fast as it went in. The review came at the next break in play.
The Canadians thought they had a third with 4.5 seconds remaining in the period when a shot from Rebecca Johnston seemed to trickle in, with Natalie Spooner jabbing away from the edge of the crease for good measure. But the review went against the Canadians this time.
Canada opened Olympic play with a 5-0 win over the Russian entry, with Daoust scoring twice. Finland lost 3-1 to the U.S. in its opener.
At 2-0-0, Japan and Switzerland have already qualified for the quarter-finals out of Pool B.
The Canadian women are after a fifth straight Olympic title. The Finns (0-2-0) are two-time bronze medallists.
Canada’s record against the Finns at the world championships and Olympics now stands at 27-1-0 (6-0-0 at the Olympics).
The Finns won bronze at 2017 IIHF women’s world championship in Plymouth, Mich., where they upset Canada 4-3 in the preliminary round with Raty making 35 saves.
The closest Finland had come previously to beating the Canadians was a 6-6 exhibition tie in 1999.
Canada struck early Tuesday with Daoust intercepting a Finnish clearance for a 2-on-1 opportunity. Daoust deftly delayed her pass to freeze the goalie and then slipped the puck between the defenceman’s legs to Agosta for a tap-in goal just 35 seconds in.
After the early wobble, Finland found its feet, with Rosa Lindstedt ringing one off the post after taking a pass in the slot midway through the first period. And Szabados had to be sharp during a goalmouth flurry while Canada killed a penalty.
Daoust made it 3-0 at 8:19 of the second, beating Raty with a low wrist shot through traffic after faking a slap shot. Saulnier padded the lead at 18:26 after being put in alone on a perfect pass from Johnston.
Meaghan Mikkelson, a 33-year-old defenceman and three-time Olympian from St. Albert, Alta., marked her 100th international appearance for Canada.