US men’s hockey cruises to quarterfinal win over Czech Republic
The U.S. men’s hockey team won their quarterfinal game with style, defeating the Czech Republic, 5-2 on Wednesday.
Just as head coach Dan Bylsma promised, Team USA was aggressive from the drop and it paid off as James van Riemsdyk was able to sneak one past Ondrej Pavelec on a bad angle just 1:39 into the game.
The Czechs would answer back three minutes later, as a scramble in front of U.S. netminder Jonathan Quick resulted in a sloppy play by defenseman Ryan Suter, as his attempt to clear the puck deflected off his teammate Ryan McDonagh and into the net. Ales Hemsky was credited with the goal.
At the 14:38 mark David Backes was able to find his linemate Dustin Brown with an across-the-ice pass that seemed to befuddle the entire Czech team, and Brown rifled it into a wide-open net making it 2-1 in favor of the Americans.
The Backes line struck again just 1.8 seconds before the first period expired. Ryan Suter attempted a long shot from the point and it went wide of the net but off the end boards, and onto the tape of Backes who put it over the head of Pavelec, who was trying to cover the puck and misjudged it.
Team USA would go into the first intermission up 3-1.
The Czech Republic got their fair share of chances early in the second period, but Team USA upped their advantage to three goals at the 9:31 mark. While on the power play, Joe Pavelski slapped a hard, high-rising shot which missed the net but careened off the boards and found Zach Parise, who was able to stuff it past Pavelec for his first goal in Sochi.
Pavelec was benched in favor of Alexander Salak after the goal. Pavelec gave up four goals on just 12 shots, ending his Olympics on a very sour note.
The U.S. held a 4-1 lead after two, but just two minutes into the third Phil Kessel made it 5-1 off a nice pass from Ryan Kesler.
Hemsky would score late in the third to make the margin of defeat respectable, but the U.S. thoroughly dominated the contest.
While this game transpired, Canada had a bit of a scare against the Latvians, but managed to win their game, 2-1. Despite the score, they dominated the flow of play, outshooting Latvia, 54-13.
Canada’s win sets up a showdown with the U.S. on Friday.
The winner of that game will face the winner of Sweden vs. Finland, which will also take place on Friday, in the gold medal game on Sunday.