Reporting from Vancouver, Canada — While its closest rival is dismantling opponents by a combined 27 goals in two games over on the other side of the bracket, the United States women's hockey team is wreaking havoc in its own group.
The U.S. hammered hapless Russia, 13-0, on Tuesday in preliminary-round action at UBC Thunderbird Arena.
The bigger, faster and more experienced U.S. squashed Russia to improve to 2-0 in the tournament and has now outscored foes, 25-1, in the process. Team Canada, the other favorite to bring home gold in the Olympic Games, was off Tuesday but won its first two games by a combined score of 28-1.
Against Russia, the U.S. got three goals and an assist from Jenny Potter, two goals and three assists from Natalie Darwitz and a seven-save shutout from goaltender Jessie Vetter as it dominated play from the outset.
Hilary Knight added four assists and Kelli Stack had a goal and three assists.
"Canada can look at our scores and come to the same conclusion," Darwitz said. "We need to worry about ourselves. We have a corner of our eye on them but at the same time we're looking forward, straight ahead at our task at hand. That's what we're going to do until the game says Canada vs. USA."
The U.S. held a 5-0 lead after one period and after tacking on seven scores in the second eased off the gas and added a goal in the third. It held a 34-7 shot advantage and Vetter was rarely tested.
In the third, the crowd was cheering Russia every time it entered the U.S. zone, urging it to score at least once for a moral victory.
The closest it came to getting on the scoreboard was when Alexandra Kapustina fired wide on a chance with an open net.
The United States took only two shots in the final period.
"It's not about running up the score," said Potter, who became the first women's player in Olympic history to record two hat tricks in the same Games. "It's about winning the gold.
"This is great for our team. You can always learn something from every game. We stayed in the present moment, which is exactly what we want to do. We're not looking forward or looking back."
The U.S., which scored an Olympic-record seven power-play goals and added two short-handed scores, will turn its attention to playing Finland on Thursday while trying not to focus on a possible showdown with Canada. "Our focus is on our team and what we want to accomplish," Potter said. "Right now we beat Russia and we're moving on to Finland."