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Sarah Fillier’s game-winner lifts Canada to 2nd straight win over U.S. in pre-Olympic exhibition

Sarah Fillier scored twice, including the go-ahead goal with 3:58 left, and Canada defeated the United States 3-2 in Game 2 of the rivals’ nine-game pre-Olympic series on Monday night in Hartford, Conn.

Victoria Bach also scored for Canada, which opened the series with a 3-1 win at Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Friday night. The Canadians, who beat the Americans for the gold medal at the world championships this summer, have now won four straight versus the U.S. — their best run since a five-game streak from Dec. 3, 2017 to Feb. 15, 2018.

Cayla Barnes had a goal and an assist and Amanda Kessel also scored for the U.S.

The game featured a rematch of goaltenders from Canada’s 3-2 overtime victory at worlds on Aug. 31. Canada’s Ann-Renee Desbiens stopped 18 shots while USA’s Nicole Hensley stopped 17.

The series resumes at Kingston, Ontario, on Nov. 21.

American defenceman Megan Keller committed an undisciplined roughing penalty that led to the decisive goal. Keller cross-checked a Canadian player near the benches.

Brianne Jenner set up the goal by driving into the right circle and feeding a wide-open Fillier, who swept in the puck at the left post.

Though the Americans rebounded from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 2 on Kessel’s goal 5:34 into the second period, they have yet to enjoy a lead over the past two games.

The world’s top women’s hockey powers are preparing for the Beijing Winter Games in February, with the Americans attempting to defend their 2018 gold medal. Five of their past eight meetings have been decided by one goal.

The Americans vowed to learn from their lapses on Friday, and yet quickly fell into a 2-0 hole 5:03 in, with defensive breakdowns allowing Canada to score on its first two shots on net.

Marie-Philip Poulin set up the opening goal 36 seconds in by beating Kelly Pannek off the puck at the right boards. U.S. defenders then backed up, allowing Bach to drive into the slot and lift a shot over Hensley’s glove.

A defensive breakdown led to Fillier’s first goal. Canada’s Melodie Daoust outworked Natalie Buchbinder for the puck behind the net and was falling backward while getting a pass off to the left circle, where Natalie Spooner immediately fed a wide-open Fillier, who snapped it into the open right side.

The Americans responded with Barnes’ power-play goal with 7:28 left in the first period. Barnes banked in a rising shot from the right point off the far post, with Desbiens screened by Lacey Eden.

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