United States defeats Canada in Women's World Championships opener

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Jen Neale
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United State’s Brianna Decker (14)celebrates her goal during the second period of a IIHF Women’s World Championship hockey tournament game against Canada, Friday, March 31, 2017, in Plymouth, Mich. In the background right is Canada forward Blayre Turnbull. (Jason Kryk/The Canadian Press via AP)
United State’s Brianna Decker (14)celebrates her goal during the second period of a IIHF Women’s World Championship hockey tournament game against Canada, Friday, March 31, 2017, in Plymouth, Mich. In the background right is Canada forward Blayre Turnbull. (Jason Kryk/The Canadian Press via AP)

The United States Women’s National Team had barely 48 hours to prepare for the Women’s World Championships after an emotional two and a half weeks that nearly led them boycotting the tournament.

Led by Worlds’ rookie Nicole Hensley in net, the defending champion United States women dispatched of blood rival Team Canada 2-0 in the teams’ opening game of the tournament.

For the first time in pretty much forever, the Canadians are without Hayley Wickenheiser who retired earlier this year.

Shannon Szabados returned to the Canadian National Team for the first time since winning Olympic gold in Sochi. Szabados spent four seasons in the SPHL and took a break from National Team play.

Despite out-shooting Canada 11-5 in the first period, the United States appeared to be shaking off some rust as they returned to form. They weren’t bad, just not as crisp as usual.

Szabados showcased the Olympic form the Americans are all too familiar with as she made an incredible toe save in the first.

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Team Canada’s captain, the always dangerous Marie-Philip Poulin nearly put Canada on the board first when she rang a shot off the pipe behind Hensley.

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However, it was the Americans who got on the board first.

Defenseman Megan Bozek led the rush from one end of the ice to the other. She powers into the Canadian zone, goes behind the net and makes the attempt at the wrap around.

Did we mention she’s a defenseman?

The puck appears to hit a stick and goes right to a waiting Brianna Decker. Decker quickly snaps the puck in behind the stretching netminder. USA up 1-0.

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Here’s a closer look at the goal:

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The second period ends with the US leading, 1-0 and out-shooting the Candians, 21-8.

Blayre Turnbull was close to tying the game if it wasn’t for a spectacular save by Hensley.

Natalie Spooner rushed down the ice with Turnbull. Spooner feeds a perfect pass to the onrushing Turnbull who dishes it on net, and somehow Hensley saves it.

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Gigi Marvin made her return to the Worlds’ roster for Team USA as a forward instead of a defenseman. The change paid off as Marvin put the US up, 2-0.

Marvin shoots from way behind the circles. The puck deflects off Poulin and in past Szabados.

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Poulin was visibly upset with herself after the deflection. She even went back to Szabados to apologize.

Hilary Knight was close to giving the US a three goal lead on a wide open net. Laura Fortino gets back and slides on her belly to block the shot.

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Canada pulls their goalie with 1:42 to go, but to no avail.

The United States wins 2-0.

After what they’ve gone through together as a team in the past month, the anthem after the game had to be a little bit sweeter for Team USA.

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The United States is back at it on Saturday as they take on Team Russia at 3:30pm EST. Watch the game live on NHL Network and NHL.com.

Also on Saturday, Team Canada goes up against Team Finland at 7:30pm EST. TSN is carrying the broadcast in Canada, so check your local listings.

Unless something completely crazy happens, expect to see these two teams in the gold medal game on April 7.

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Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter!