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Sochi Olympics

U.S. men’s hockey team routs Czech, sets up rematch with Canada

  • USA forward Zach Parise (9) celebrates his goal against the Czech Republic with teammates Phil Kessel (81) and USA defenseman Ryan Suter during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    USA forward Zach Parise (9) celebrates his goal against the Czech Republic with teammates Phil Kessel (81) and USA defenseman Ryan Suter during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • USA forward David Backes (42) and USA forward Ryan Callahan (24) try to gain control of the puck in front of the the Czech Republic goal as Czech Republic defenseman Radko Gudas (3), Czech Republic defenseman Michal Rozsival (32) and Czech Republic goaltender Alexander Salak defend during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

    USA forward David Backes (42) and USA forward Ryan Callahan (24) try to gain control of the puck in front of the the Czech Republic goal as Czech Republic defenseman Radko Gudas (3), Czech Republic defenseman Michal Rozsival (32) and Czech Republic goaltender Alexander Salak defend during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

  • Canada goaltender Carey Price blocks a shot by Latvia forward Miks Indrasis during the second period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    Canada goaltender Carey Price blocks a shot by Latvia forward Miks Indrasis during the second period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • Canada forward Patrick Sharp reacts after scoring a goal against Latvia during the first period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

    Canada forward Patrick Sharp reacts after scoring a goal against Latvia during the first period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

  • USA forward Zach Parise (9) celebrates his goal against the Czech Republic with teammates Phil Kessel (81) and USA defenseman Ryan Suter during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    USA forward Zach Parise (9) celebrates his goal against the Czech Republic with teammates Phil Kessel (81) and USA defenseman Ryan Suter during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • USA forward Zach Parise (9) celebrates his goal against the Czech Republic with teammates Phil Kessel (81) and USA defenseman Ryan Suter during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • USA forward David Backes (42) and USA forward Ryan Callahan (24) try to gain control of the puck in front of the the Czech Republic goal as Czech Republic defenseman Radko Gudas (3), Czech Republic defenseman Michal Rozsival (32) and Czech Republic goaltender Alexander Salak defend during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
  • Canada goaltender Carey Price blocks a shot by Latvia forward Miks Indrasis during the second period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
  • Canada forward Patrick Sharp reacts after scoring a goal against Latvia during the first period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
  • USA forward Zach Parise (9) celebrates his goal against the Czech Republic with teammates Phil Kessel (81) and USA defenseman Ryan Suter during the second period of men's quarterfinal hockey game in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The United States hockey team is getting exactly what it wanted. Another shot at Canada.

Dustin Brown banged in a go-ahead goal late in the first period and the Americans went on to dominate the Czech Republic, 5-2, yesterday to earn a spot in the semifinals for the third time in four Olympics.

The U.S. went on to play in the gold-medal game in 2010 and 2002 and lost each time to the Canadians.

When the Americans’ coach, Dan Bylsma, was asked to look ahead to the matchup, he took a deep breath and paused for several seconds to gather his thoughts.

“We knew we were going to have some big games prior to this point in time, but you were looking forward to the possibility of this rematch,” he said.

After a day off, the countries that share a long border in North America and generally friendly relations will meet tomorrow for the chance to become hockey champions of the Sochi Games.

“It’s a great opportunity,” American forward Max Pacioretty said. “They’re obviously the favorite coming into the tournament, and we’ve opened up a lot of eyes with our play, but we have more in the tank to give and to show.

“We keep getting better every game and hopefully we’ll keep getting better after this one.”

While the Canadians had to hold off Latvia, 2-1, the U.S. might be peaking at the right time to improve its chances to win Olympic hockey gold for the first time since the “Miracle on Ice,” in 1980.

If the U.S. wins two more games, anyone who has been watching them play won’t be surprised.

“This is a team that has put up a spectacular performance,” Czech Republic Coach Alois Hadamczik said.

And it wasn’t the first time in Sochi.

The U.S. has been tested only once, in a 3-2, eight-round shootout against the host Russians in the preliminary round. The Americans crushed the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia by a combined score of 17-4.

The Americans shaped their roster with players who skate fast, hit hard, share the puck and score.

“It starts off the ice,” Pacioretty said. “Everyone on this team realizes you have to play for the team and check your ego at the door. All of us are the top players on our team back home and you come here and you’re asked to play different roles.

“You see everyone in the room, willing to go to the dirty areas, block shots, make hits. It’s nice to see when you see a guy like Patty Kane backchecking as hard as he can across the ice. It kind of puts things in perspective.”

While the Czechs had to play for a second straight day because they needed to beat Slovakia in the qualification round just to reach the quarterfinals, the rested Americans were ready to roll after two days off.

The U.S. seemed to take advantage of having fresh legs, beating the Czech Republic to loose pucks all night long.

“They had more energy,” Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec said. “It’s not an excuse, it’s just the way it is.”

James van Riemsdyk gave the Americans a lead 1:39 into the game.

They lost it a few minutes later when one of their defenseman, Ryan McDonagh, tried to clear the puck away from the front of the crease and it went off the left skate of Ryan Suter and got past Jonathan Quick.

The Czechs were not as successful scoring on their own against Quick, who started ahead of 2010 silver-medal winning goaltender Ryan Miller and had 21 saves.

Ales Hemsky was credited with a goal that two Americans touched after he did. Hemsky legitimately scored his second one, skating to the slot and snapping off a wrist shot that got past Quick’s blocker with seven minutes left in the game.

Brown put the U.S. up, 2-1, at the 14:38 mark of the first, and David Backes made it 3-1 with 1.8 seconds left in the period.

Zach Parise piled on, pushing the Americans’ lead to 4-1 midway through the second period to chase Pavelec after he made just eight saves. He was replaced by Alexander Salak, who stopped 12 shots.

Since the Czechs won 1998 Olympics, the first with NHL players, they have won only one a bronze medal in 2006.

Canada 2, Latvia 1

Shea Weber scored a tiebreaking power-play goal with 6:54 to play, and Canada survived an enormous scare from Latvia to advance to the semifinals.

Carey Price made 15 saves for the defending Olympic champion Canadians, who were stretched to the limit by Latvia goalie Kristers Gudlevskis.

The 21-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning prospect made 55 saves in a spectacular performance, nearly pulling off one of the biggest upsets in hockey history largely by himself.

But Weber unleashed his peerless slap shot late in a power play, and Canada finally took the lead on its 54th shot against Gudlevskis.

On a down note, Canada later learned that forward John Tavares will miss the rest of the Olympics with a leg injury, dealing a blow to the team’s depth.

Finland 3, Russia 1

Finland eliminated Russia, putting a stunning end to the Russians’ enormous expectations at home.

Teemu Selanne scored an early goal and Tuukka Rask made 37 saves as Finland crushed the Russians’ dreams of winning hockey gold in front of their own fans. Russian teams have won eight gold medals in hockey, but none in the last 22 years.

Selanne and Mikael Granlund each had a goal and an assist for the steady Finns, who overcame an early deficit and silenced the Bolshoy Ice Dome with two goals in the first period.

Despite its roster of high-priced offensive stars, Russia couldn’t score in the final 52 minutes after Ilya Kovalchuk’s early power-play goal.

Sweden 5, Slovenia 0

Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves for his second shutout of the Sochi Games and Carl Hagelin scored twice, helping Sweden advance into the semifinals.

The 2006 Olympic champions will face Finland tomorrow for a spot in the gold-medal game.

Sweden is the only team to win all four of its games in regulation in what has been quite a feat without Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin and Johan Forward.

Alexander Steen broke a scoreless tie 18:50 into the game. After a scoreless second, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson and Hagelin broke the game open with four goals in the third period.

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