07:41pm CST, 02/01/15

USA defeats Czechs, Canada escapes Latvia to set up semifinal match


The United States is on to the semifinals at the Olympics after defeating the Czech Republic 5-2 on Wednesday.

The Americans got the scoring started early in the first period when James van Riemsdyk scored from in close on what can only be described as a soft goal against Czech starter Ondrej Pavelec. But the Czechs responded and put a lot of pressure on the Americans, evening the game at 1-1 three minutes later on Ales Hemsky's goal. The puck was in the crease and Ryan McDonagh had the clear but when he tried to move the puck out it hit the skate of Ryan Suter and went into the American net.

The American line of Dustin Brown, David Backes and Ryan Callahan then took over for the remainder of the first period, combining on a pair of goals. The first was a great cross-crease pass from Backes to Brown, who scored on the short angle. Then, with less than two seconds in the period, Backes hopped on a shot from Suter that went wide and put the puck past Pavelec on another tough goal to give the USA a 3-1 lead at the intermission, a crushing goal.

Dan Bylsma's team kept the pressure up to start the second period and got another goal, this one from Zach Parise when once again a shot from Suter went off the end boards and hopped back in the crease. After that goal Pavelec was pulled from the game after four goals on 12 shots, giving way to Alexander Salak. The Americans added the fifth goal in the third period when Phil Kessel added his fifth of these Games, giving the USA a 5-1 lead.

Hemsky did add a second late tally for the Czechs but it was too little, too late as the Americans went on to win 5-2 in somewhat comfortable fashion.

Quick stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced and was all-around solid to good for the USA as the Czechs did get some pretty good chances throughout the game. The defense in front of him was doing a good job of limiting those chances though by jamming the crease or blocking shots before they reached Quick.

Next up is a rematch of the 2010 gold-medal game against Canada, which snuck past Latvia in a game played right across the lot at the same time. With USA and Canada meeting on Thursday in the women's gold-medal game, it's going to be a fun 48 hours in North America.

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