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USA beats Czech Republic 5-2 in men’s Olympic hockey

US David Backes (R) scores a goal during the Men's Ice Hockey Quarterfinals match between the USA and the Czech Republic at the Shayba Arena during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 19, 2014. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

Team USA played the Czech Republic in elimination hockey at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

The Americans beat the Czechs 5-2 and will now face Team Canada in the semifinals on Friday.

First period

The Americans got an early jump on the Czechs, with James Van Riemsdyk scoring a minute and a half into the first period. It was the first shot of the game.

The Czech Republic answered back minutes later, with Ales Hemsky beating U.S. netminder Jonathan Quick.

Dustin Brown scored the American’s second goal of the game, assisted by David Backes and Ryan Suter.

Backes scored with just 1.8 seconds left in the first period, widening the U.S. lead to 3-1.

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Second period

Zach Parise scored for the U.S. nearly 10 minutes into the second period, making the American lead 4-1. It was Parise’s first point of the Olympic tournament.

The Czechs pulled goalie Ondrej Pavelec after Parise’s goal, putting in Alexander Salak.

The U.S. outshot the Czechs 18-13 after two periods.

Third period

The U.S. added another goal in the third, this time by Phil Kessel, assisted by Ryan Kesler and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Hemsky got his second goal of the game with seven minutes left in the third, narrowing the U.S. lead to 5-2. But it wasn’t enough to catch up to the U.S. squad.

Leading up to the quarter-final game

The U.S. should have no problem handling the Czech team.

Whereas the Americans are looking like one of the best squads in the tournament, the Czechs were lucky to beat Slovakia in the qualification round, squeaking out a 5-3 win on Tuesday.

“[The Americans] are a very business-like team,” said Ryan Kennedy, associated senior writer for The Hockey News. “I don’t think they’re going to get sidetracked at all.”
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According to Kennedy, much like the Canada-Latvia quarter-final game, everything that the Czechs have (they’re physical, not afraid to skate, to forecheck) the Americans have more of.

After beating Russia in a drama-filled shootout during the preliminary round, the U.S. advanced straight to the quarter-finals and have had an extra day to prepare for Wednesday’s elimination game.

The winner will play the winner of the Canada-Latvia game in the semifinals on Friday.

In other hockey news

Team Canada beat Latvia 2-1 in a nail-biter of a game, after the Latvians stunned Switzerland in a 3-1 win on Tuesday. Canada advanced straight to the quarter-finals, after beating Finland 2-1 in overtime on Sunday. Canada and the U.S. will play in the semifinals on Friday.

Sweden easily handled Slovenia in the quarter-finals, winning 5-0. Alexander Steen, Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson each scored a goal. Carl Hagelin had two. Swedish goalie Henrik Lundovist got the shutout, stopping 19 Slovenian shots.

Finland beat Russia 3-1 in a do-or-die game for two of the tournament’s medal favourites. Finland will face Sweden in the semifinals on Friday.

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