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2010 Winter Olympics: U.S. women rout Sweden, reach gold-medal match

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Monique Lamoureux scored three goals, Jessie Vetter made 11 saves and the U.S. women's hockey team rolled into the Olympic gold-medal match with a 9-1 semifinal victory over Sweden on Monday.

Caitlin Cahow, Karen Thatcher and Kelli Stack each had a goal and an assist as the Americans avenged their 2006 Olympic shootout loss to Sweden. The rematch was a comprehensive thrashing of the Swedes and goalie Kim Martin, who came nowhere close to her 37-save performance in Turin.

After outscoring their first four opponents by a combined 40-2, the Americans will face the winner of Finland's semifinal later Monday against powerhouse Canada, likely setting up the long-anticipated meeting of the sport's two best teams.

No Swedish surprises this time. The U.S. women's hockey team wouldn't allow any goalie to keep them from playing for gold.

Vetter soundly outplayed Martin, who let in a few stoppable goals and made at least one accidental save off her mask. The Americans' superior offense took care of the rest, jumping to a 4-0 lead early in the second period on consecutive goals by Angela Ruggiero and Cahow before icing it with three goals on their first six shots in the third period.

On the 30th anniversary of the U.S. men's Miracle on Ice victory over the Soviet Union in Lake Placid, two-goal scorer turned coach Mark Johnson watched his loaded women's team prevent a repeat of the Swedes' minor miracle in Turin.

Sweden's win in Turin was the first loss by a North American team in a major women's hockey tournament. Martin was the star, but she missed much of last year at Minnesota Duluth with a knee injury, only recently returning to competition.

Except for the symmetry of another semifinal meeting, there was little reason to expect a repeat: The U.S. team hadn't lost to Sweden in five international meetings since Turin, outscoring the Swedes 30-2 before beating them three more times in exhibitions leading up to Vancouver.

With U.S. men's team general manager Brian Burke watching from rinkside, the Americans started the rout less than 7 minutes in. Moments after Vetter stopped Pernilla Winberg on a point-blank shot, Jenny Potter hit Lamoureux in stride with a long pass, and the 20-year-old twin beat Martin for her second goal of the Olympics.

Meghan Duggan then popped home a rebound during a power play 69 seconds later, and the United States had the same two-goal lead it blew four years ago in Turin. But these Americans barely resemble the fractured team that made the wrong kind of history — and Martin didn't look like her old self either.

Ruggiero, a four-time Olympian playing in her record 250th game with the U.S. team, beat Martin cleanly with a wrist shot early in the second period. Just 2 minutes later, Martin clumsily missed catching a soft shot by Cahow, letting it float behind her.

Sweden managed a power play goal midway through the period when Winberg backhanded a puck out of mid-air past Vetter, but Thatcher popped home a rebound goal 4 minutes later.

Lamoureux completed her hat trick on a power play goal with 2:41 to play.

After playing the preliminary round at UBC Thunderbird Arena, both teams waited through a long weekend for a chance to play at the bigger hockey venue in Vancouver. The Americans hadn't played since Thursday, while Sweden had four straight days without a game in a schedule criticized by coaches and some players.