USA vs. Czech Republic final score: Americans outmuscle Czechs, advance to face Canada

Martin Rose

The United States scored under two minutes into its quarterfinal matchup, and cruised to an easy win over the Czech Republic.

SB Nation 2014 Winter Olympic Coverage

The United States knew what it had to do to be successful against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals: Playing against an older Czech side that played a tight contest against Slovakia a day earlier, the Americans needed to play a physical 60 minutes against the Czechs and wear them out.

Mission accomplished.

An aggressive USA squad scored 99 seconds in, and then chased Ondrej Pavelec from the Czech crease in the second period en route to a 5-2 quarterfinal victory.

The United States controlled play from the onset, and cracked Pavelec only 99 seconds in. The line of Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, and Ryan Kessler worked the puck deep. van Riemsdyk ended up with puck below the goal line, and then curled out to Pavelec's left, beating the Jets goalie from a sharp angle to give USA a 1-0 lead at the 1:39 mark.

The Czechs would push back hard, though, and apply pressure in close on Jonathan Quick. With the Czechs throwing bodies and pucks toward the American crease, Ales Hesmky spun a puck on net that Ryan McDonagh inadvertently fired off Ryan Suter and in, knotting the score at one apiece.

Play would even out after that, but the United States would continue to work the puck deep in the Czech's zone, and cycle the puck along the boards. Dan Bylsma also sent out the line of David Backs, Dustin Brown, and Ryan Callahan to match up with Jaromir Jagr's line every time it saw the ice.

The defensive chess move paid off in the form of a goal. Later in the period, Backes made a play on Jagr in the neutral zone to win the puck. After taking a pass from Suter, Backes whipped it cross-ice to Brown who roofed the puck into the open net to give the United States back the lead.

That same line would beat the buzzer to close out the first period scoring. In the first frame's closing seconds, McDonagh gave Suter a point-to-point pass that Suter threw toward the net. While the puck went wide, Backes took it off the end-boards, out-waited Pavelec, and roofed the puck from a tough angle to give the United States a 3-1 lead with only 1.8 seconds remaining in the period.

In the middle frame, the United States would continue to simply throw pucks Pavelec's way and scrap for goals. Midway through the period, while on the power play, Suter again took a point shot that he made sure got through to the goal line. While it again went wide, Zach Parise jumped on the loose puck and banked it past Pavelec to give the USA a 4-1 lead.

After the goal, the Czech Republic would pull Pavelec in favor of Alexander Salak.

Things would settle down in the third period with the United States protecting a lead. The Czechs couldn't muster any quality scoring chances, and Phil Kessel scored his tournament-leading fifth goal on a tap-in on a Kessler feed.

While Quick looked like he was battling the puck at times, the United States provided plenty of offense to support the Kings goalie. Quick went on to make TK saves, while the United States led for 48:14 of the game. Hesmky would get his second goal of the game late in the third to pull the Czechs to within three, but it was as close as they were able to get.

The Backes, Brown, Callahan line was monumental in the victory. The unit not only shut down the Czechs top unit for the majority of the game, but it also generated two goals.

The win sets up a matchup between the United States and Canada in the semifinals, a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game in Vancouver.

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