Canada Beat Russian Athletes 5-0 in 2018 Winter Olympics Hockey Opener

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2018

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11:  Nadezhda Morozova #92 of Olympic Athlete from Russia attempts to make a save in the third period against Canada during the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round - Group A game on day two of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre on February 11, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Canada's women won their opening match of the 2018 Winter Olympics ice hockey and moved to the top of Group A after beating the Olympic Athletes from Russia 5-0 on Sunday. 

Rebecca Johnston and Melodie Daoust each scored twice for Canada as the Russian athletes fell woefully short in their 2018 Olympics opener, which resulted in them crashing to the bottom of their qualifying group.

Canadian goalkeeper Ann-Renee Desbiens was rarely tested in between the posts as Canada illustrated their contention as one of the leading favourites for the gold medal in this event.

The United States earlier beat Finland 3-1 to take the early advantage in Group A, but they'll have the opportunity to climb again when they meet the Russian athletes on Tuesday.

Here's a look at the updated 2018 Winter Olympics medal table after Sunday's hockey results:

          

One might not have thought Canada would finish so far clear of their opponents after the two teams saw out a goalless first period at Gangneung Hockey Centre in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

But it appeared some stern words from head coach Laura Schuler might have taken root with the players, and Johnston fired in a crucial opener just minutes after the second period tipped off to ease the pressure.

The shackles began to fall off from there, and the Olympic Athletes from Russia were pegged back further when Haley Irwin diverted home on the power play following a driven attempt from Johnston, via CBC:

Marie-Philip Poulin and Meghan Agosta both played a hand in setting up Canada's third, Daoust scoring her third under easy circumstances:

Three Russians were sent for a two-minute sin bin for infringements across the second period, while Johnston was the only Canadian penalised for an infringement, although the athletes from Russia couldn't capitalise.

That trend continued in the third period, where the Russian served four penalties compared to Canada's one after Sarah Nurse was pulled up for a trip as her side led 3-0.

Johnston netted the goal of the game, again Canada scoring while the Russians had a player off the ice, and sports writer Donna Spencer was suitably in awe of her narrow finish from close range:

Canada already looked to be en route to the top of Group A with a 4-0 win, but Daoust's second of the match, assisted by Poulin, made sure of a comprehensive result in their Pyeongchang debut.

The United States will still count themselves as the most likely challengers to the throne of the defending champions, but Canada look like the early team to beat following Sunday's one-sided win.

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