Canada worked harder to get to this year’s final and has less recovery time after a 5-3 semifinal win over tenacious Finland. The Americans barely broke a sweat in a 9-0 romp over Russia earlier Sunday.
The U.S. is chasing a third straight world title after wins in Ottawa in 2013 and Malmo, Sweden, in 2015. Canada won the first eight world championship starting in 1990, but the Americans have dominated lately winning six of the last eight.
Their most recent gold medal at the world championship was in 2012, when they got by the host country 5-4 in overtime in Burlington, Vt.
Toronto’s Natalie Spooner led the host country with a hat trick and an assist Sunday in front of 4,007 at the Sandman Centre. Her short-handed breakaway goal early in the third stood up as the game winner.
She and Blayre Turnbull of Stellarton, N.S., both scored on an empty net. Meghan Agosta of Ruthven, Ont., scored her first of the tournament. Charline Labonte of Boisbriand, Que., stopped 16 shots for her second win of the tournament.
Saana Valkama, Michelle Karvinen and Saila Saari countered for the Finns. Meeri Raisanen stopped 36-of-39 shots for the Finns, who face an even quicker turnaround for Monday afternoon’s bronze-medal game against Russia.
Down 3-1, coach Pasi Mustonen pulled Raisanen for an extra attacker on three power plays in the third period starting with the first at 11:22.
The strategy worked on his team’s second opportunity with Karvinen’s goal, but backfired on the third try with Turnbull and Spooner both scoring into an empty net. Saari struck evenstrength with 33 seconds remaining in the game.
Unlike Russia, which started its backup goalie against the U.S., Finland went with Raisanen, who made Canada work for the win. She stoned Agosta and Jennifer Wakefield on breakaways in the second period.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Kelli Stack and Hilary Knight led the Americans with two goals apiece Sunday. Duggan, Megan Bozek and Brianna Decker also scored. Alex Rigsby posted a 17-save shutout against Russia.
“Any time you can get a big win in the semifinals, it gives you a lot of energy and fire going into the final,” Duggan said.
Russian starter Anna Prugova was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots in the first period for Nadezhda Morozova, who turned away 21-of-26 shots.