The U.S. women’s hockey team got a major reality check on Friday.
Team USA escaped its quarterfinal matchup with a 4-1 win over the Czech Republic at the Wukesong Sports Center. The Americans held an eye-popping 59-6 shot advantage for the game, but Czech goalie Klara Peslarova held strong in net with 54 saves.
The first period was all Team USA, but the team could not get past Peslarova. The U.S. was up 18-0 in shots at the end of the opening frame.
The Czech Republic scored first thanks to Michaela Pejzlova after going nearly 25 minutes without a goal to start the game. American netminder Alex Cavallini stopped the five other shots she faced on the night.
Hilary Knight scored the equalizer 48 seconds later, but both sides went scoreless for the rest of the second period.
Lee Stecklein gave Team USA its first lead of the game with 13:11 left in the third period. The tally was her first of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
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Savannah Harmon added some insurance with 3:09 left. Her power-play goal gave the U.S. a 3-1 lead before Kendall Coyne Schofield chipped in an empty-netter in the final seconds.
One thing that hampered the Czech Republic throughout the game was its power play. The unit went 0-for-17 in round-robin play and failed to capitalize on four chances against the U.S. One of those opportunities came after a major penalty on U.S. forward Dani Cameranesi, but the Team USA penalty kill was fine over those five shorthanded minutes.
With the win, the U.S. will face the winner of the Finland-Japan quarterfinal, which will take place at 3:40 a.m. ET on Saturday. Finland, which finished third in Group A, fell to Team USA by a score of 5-2 in its round-robin opener. Japan, on the other hand, was the top team in Group B.