GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Russian men's hockey team swept aside Norway 6-1 on Wednesday to set up a Olympics semifinal against the Czech Republic.
Russia charged to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period, outshooting Norway 19-2, and remained in control throughout the game as chants of "Red Machine" and "Russia" echoed around the half-empty Gangneung Hockey Center. Nikita Gusev finished with a goal and two assists, while Slava Voynov had a goal and an assist.
Russia outshot Norway 32-14 and the Norwegians at times looked very much like a team that had played a day earlier.
"We are a very hungry group of guys," Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "Next game will be the biggest one."
After the disappointment of losing in the quarterfinals on home ice in Sochi four years ago, the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" — as they're called due to International Olympic Committee sanctions over doping — are now guaranteed to play for a medal. They will play against the Czech Republic on Friday after the Czechs eliminated the United States 3-2 in a shootout.
"Our dream's still on," Russian captain Pavel Datysuk said. "We are in a tournament where we are the top favorite, but we need to improve."
No Russian team has won a medal since 2002, with the last gold won by the post-Soviet Unified Team in 1992, also under the Olympic flag.
Russian goaltender Vasily Koshechkin allowed one goal off 14 Norwegian shots.
The Norwegians were playing in their first quarterfinal, a day after earning their country's first Olympic win since 1994 against Slovenia. The Russians had two days of rest after beating the U.S. in the preliminary round.
Kovalchuk said the plan was to overwhelm the tired Norwegians from the start: "They'd spent a lot of energy so we had the job of shooting as much as possible."
The Russians took the lead midway through the first period when Mikhail Grigorenko hit a shot top-shelf past Norwegian goaltender Lars Haugen.
Less than five minutes later, Gusev made it 2-0 on a rebound during a power play, and former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Voynov closed out the period with his first goal of the tournament, a wrist shot assisted by Gusev.
Norway's Alexander Bonsaksen capitalized on a Russian defensive error to make it 3-1 in the second, but the Russians soon responded with goals from Sergei Kalinin and Nikita Nesterov, whose shot ricocheted in off Bonsaksen. Ivan Telegin scored his first goal of the tournament, and Russia's sixth of the game, with seven minutes remaining in the third off a Grigorenko pass.
Later Wednesday, Canada played Finland and Sweden faced Germany for berths in the second semifinal.