Canada forward Rebecca Johnston (6) hits Finland defender Anna Kilponen (5) during the second period of an IIHF women’s world hockey championship semifinal game Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Plymouth, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Canada downs Finland 4-0 to go for gold

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Marie-Philip Poulin scored a goal and assisted on another to pace Canada to a 4-0 win over Finland in a women’s world hockey championship semifinal Thursday.

Canada takes on the winner of the other semifinal between the United States and Germany in Friday’s gold-medal game.

Sarah Potomak, Rebecca Johnston and Emily Clark also scored for Canada with Natalie Spooner contributing a pair of assists. Shannon Szabados picked up her second shutout of the tournament with 23 saves.

Noora Raty stopped 31 of 35 shots for Finland, who had beaten Canada for the first time ever in the preliminary round by a 4-3 score.

Canada has now made the final in all 18 women’s world championship dating back to the first in Ottawa and won gold 10 times. But their last world title was in 2012. The Americans have won six of the last seven.

Canada was quicker to, and harder on, the puck than they were in their previous loss to the Finns.

Both countries went 1-2 in the preliminary round, but Canada earned the bye to the semifinal with a higher goal differential.

Finland, who had beaten Sweden 4-0 in Tuesday’s quarter-final, lacked the ferocity and sharpness of their preliminary-round victory.

They were scoreless on six power-play chances, while Canada went 1-for-4.

Clark scored short-handed into an empty net 15:31 of the third period. Finland coach Pasi Mustonen had pulled Raty for two extra attackers while Spooner served a tripping penalty.

Johnston skated out from the boards and beat Raty with wrist shot for a power-play goal at 7:23 of the second period.

Poulin’s sharp-angled wrist shot from close range popped the water bottle off Finland’s net behind Raty at 6:07.

Potomak, who missed the net on a backhand chance early in the period, banged the puck in from the slot at 18:51 of the first.

Canada had their strongest start of the tournament so far, pressuring the Finns off the opening faceoff.

The line of Jennifer Wakefield, Meghan Agosta and Haley Irwin generated a scoring chance in the first minute.

Canada had 21 seconds of a two-man advantage halfway through the first period, but couldn’t convert.

Switzerland edged the Czech Republic 3-2 in overtime in a relegation-round game. A third game will be played Friday.

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