Ilya Kovalchuk scores twice as Russians outclass US

Ice Hockey – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men Preliminary Round Match – Olympic Athletes from Russia v Slovenia- Gangneung Hockey Cen

BC-OLY-HKO-Russia-US, 2nd Ld-Writethru, 732 Kovalchuk scores twice, Russians outclass US 4-0 at OlympicsAP Photo OLYMH211, OLYMH210, OLYMH208, OLYMH221, OLYMH223, OLYMH219, OLYMH218, OLYMH231, OLYMH230Eds: Russia 4, United States 0; Recasts with quotes, details.

The first four teams (the groups' first-placed teams and the best among second-placed teams) will start play-offs in quarterfinals.

After a stunning opening loss to Slovakia, Kiril Kaprizov scored a hat-trick as the Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation stormed back on Friday to crush Slovenia 8-2 in preliminary round play.

"We're the same team as we were in the first game", said Ilya Kovalchuk, who finished with two goals and an assist. "Our top players scored, so that was important".

"They've got a really good group over there, but I'm really confident in our squad", forward Jordan Greenway said.

Slovenia was coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the Americans, but was overmatched on Friday.

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Prokhorkin opened the scoring in the first period for the Russians, redirecting a hard feed from Sergei Mozyakin as he was crossing in front of the USA goal. The Russian win was the largest margin of victory in an Olympic men's hockey tournament since Canada beat Austria 6-0 in 2014. Alexander Barbanov had all the time in the world behind the net and dished the puck to KHL star Sergei Mozyakin, who found Prokhorkin free and clear in front for the deflection goal.

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Jan Mursak - who got two goals against the United States - scored Slovenia's first goal off a pass from Miha Verlic in the second period.

The Russians came out pumped up for the second period and produced 20 minutes of incredible quality to put the game out of sight.

Kovalchuk's two goals came 29 seconds apart on either side of the second intermission. In the first period, there were two large banners depicting the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin and messages of support for the country's hockey team.

The International Olympic Committee takes a dim view of anything that could be construed as political advertising, and the Russians are already on thin ice because of the doping scandal.

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