In a battle to take the victory in Group B, Team Russia utterly dominated Team Sweden by a score of 3-1 on Thursday to advance to the semifinals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Russian forward Alyona Khomich scored the second goal of the night for her nation, and it went on to be the deciding tally in the contest.
Russia now goes on to play Team Switzerland in the semifinals and Sweden will play Team Finland. Each of those matchups will take place on Monday.
Before the game even started, it was very clear from the support inside the Shayba Arena that the Russian women would have the home-ice advantage.
The first period of this matchup featured Team Russia attacking the Swedish women with great ferocity. After a short feeling-out process, the Russians dominated in the offensive and defensive zones, amassing 16 shots and allowing only two.
Forward Anna Shukina scored the first goal for Russia just 8:38 into the game. It was assisted by fellow forwards Yekaterina Pashkevich and Anna Shokhina.
The second period started much more evenly matched. With Sweden toughening up defensively and shutting Russia down for the first half of the period, it was the first career goal from Khomich that broke the game open.
The arena exploded in favor of Team Russia once again.
Despite momentum being squarely on the side of the Russians, Team Sweden pushed back and capitalized on sloppy play to close the second period with a goal from Pernilla Winberg to pull within one score.
NBC’s Olympic coverage posed a question after two tough periods:
The action once again heated up in the third period, with the Swedish team bringing the pressure in all three zones. The majority of the third period was spent playing sound defense, but Team Russia eventually scored the goal that sealed the victory.
Team captain and forward Yekaterina Smolentseva scored the third and final goal.
Team Finland head coach Andrew Kent watched this game with intent:
Russian forward Pashkevich told the Associated Press via The Washington Post about playing any team from Group A:
“Anybody in the other group is obviously a very strong opponent. That’s the reason they’re in that group.”
For Team Russia, the victory means it will go on to play Switzerland in the semifinals on Monday. While the Swiss have a strong core of players, the team has lost all three games in group play and was utterly dominated by Team USA and Canada.
On the other hand, the loss from Team Sweden means it must go head-to-head with one of the toughest teams in the tournament, Team Finland. Led by goaltender Noora Raty, the Finnish women have played the toughest competitions with ferocity.
That’s bad news for the Swedish team.
Updated Medal Standings