'Only a shutout will do'

PAUL FRIESEN, SPORTS COLUMNIST

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

The door is wide open, and Kim St-Pierre knows it.

Tonight against Finland (7:30, MTS Centre), Team Canada's "other" goaltender plans to skate through it. On the other side: a starting spot in tomorrow's gold-medal game.

"We both have a chance to play in Tuesday night's game," St-Pierre said yesterday. "I'm very excited. It should be fun."

The other player St-Pierre was referring to, of course, is Charline Labonte, who played in Canada's 5-4 shootout victory over the U.S. on Saturday.

St-Pierre, 28, and Labonte, 24, have been alternating, so far, at the world championship, but only one will get the call in the biggest game of the year.

And since Labonte's last performance was mixed -- four goals allowed, but some big saves when it counted most, including the shootout -- head coach Melody Davidson still doesn't know whose shoulder she'll tap tomorrow.

"We'll see how Kim does in the next game," Davidson said. "And make a decision from there."

St-Pierre has more experience in big games, but Labonte was in goal for the gold-medal final at last year's Olympics, perhaps signalling a changing-of-the-guard.

Of course, that could just as easily change again.

The veteran knows there's only one thing she can do.

"For me, a shutout," St-Pierre said.

That's what Canada did to the Finns in a pre-tournament game, winning 9-0.

But veteran forward Vicky Sunohara insists nobody should take the Finns lightly, and she has the facts to back it up.

"We've been in so many close games with Finland," Sunohara said. "The 1997 semifinal. The same in 1999. In 2002 they were beating us, 3-2, going into the third period. I know they're young. They work very hard. We can't take anything for granted."

Then there's the fact the Finns beat the Swedes, who knocked off the U.S. at the Winter Games last year.

SHOCK

Veteran Danielle Goyette, though, says there's only one team that can beat Canada tonight, and it's not from Scandinavia.

"We won't let that happen. If we see that, it's not Finland beating us -- it's us beating ourselves," Goyette said. "If we do our job, we have too much talent, too much experience, too much speed."

A Canada loss would not only shock the hockey world, but likely keep Canada out of tomorrow's gold-medal final.


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