Russia reached the semifinals of the IIHF World Hockey Championship on Wednesday.
Evgeni Malkin scored two goals to help Russia beat the Czech Republic 4-0. Russia, undefeated in seven games and bidding for its first title since 1993, will next play either the United States or Finland.
"It's just an unbelievable atmosphere right now. We win the game and everyone supports us," Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin said. "We feel good and we can't wait for the next game."
The Czechs, who have four of the last eight titles, had reached the final at the last two championships, winning gold in 2005.
Andrei Markov gave Russia the lead in the first period and Malkin scored two of Russia's three goals in the final period. Alexander Eremenko made 27 saves to earn the shutout.
Alexander Frolov sent a backhand pass across the slot to Markov, who wristed it over Roman Cechmanek's right shoulder on the power play 6:48 into the opening period.
After a scoreless second period, Ilya Kovalchuk sent a slapshot from the circle that bounced off the end boards and onto Malkin's stick. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward put the rebound through an opening between Cechmanek's right foot and the post to make it 2-0 only 23 seconds into the final period.
Cechmanek later came out of his crease in a risky move and fell. Alexander Radulov took advantage of the scramble by sending a slap shot past the goalie, who had dropped his stick.
Malkin added the fourth goal on a breakaway. With Czech Republic defenseman Zbynek Michalek chasing, Malkin scored a wraparound goal with five minutes to go.
"I think they're the best team here," Czech Republic forward Tomas Plekanec said. "We were there for the first two periods but the second goal in the third period was huge for them and then we just didn't play."
Russia has scored a tournament-leading 39 goals this year.
No host country has won the worldchampionships since 1986, when the Soviet Union was undefeated in 10 games, the Canadian Press reports.
Russia goaltender Alexander Eremenko made several big saves from point-blank range, but it was Malkin who put on a show for a capacity 14,000-strong crowd at the new Khodynka Arena at the start of the third period.
He first stole the puck from a Czech defenseman in the neutral zone, then raced full speed on Cechmanek before circling the net and putting the puck into an open goal past the hapless Czech goalie.
"As I was skating on goal, I made up my mind about this move," Malkin, the leading candidate for the NHL's rookie of the year award, told reporters. "I just glad everything worked out the way I had planned."
Bykov said Malkin's goal killed off the game.
"It was a close, tough match until we made it 2-0," said the Russia coach. "Then, we just dominated for the rest of the game."
The Russians, chasing their first world title since 1993, now take on the winner between the U.S. and Finland, Reuters reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
Discuss this article on Pravda.ru English Forum
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia