SOCHI, Russia — Amanda Kessel scooped up the puck near center ice, weaved her way through what appeared to be the entire nation of Switzerland and deposited it into the back of the net.
It was the prettiest of the avalanche of goals with which the United States buried the Swiss during a 9-0 shellacking on Monday at Shayba Arena, but more importantly, it came during an effort that signaled the Americans are hitting on all cylinders with a showdown against arch-rival Canada looming.
The win improved the U.S. to 2-0 in the preliminary round and assured it a spot in the semifinals. Any fear the Americans would look past the Swiss in anticipation of Wednesday's meeting with tournament co-favorite Canada was obliterated during a first-period offensive onslaught as the U.S. set an Olympic record with three goals within a 55-second span and a team-record five in a 6:22 window.
"We need to play up to our speed all the time," said Jocelyne Lamoureux, who assisted of both of twin sister Monique Lamoureux's two goals in the game. "We have Canada on Wednesday and we're going to have to maintain that speed the entire game."
The only breakdowns Monday were in the Switzerland end as the U.S. controlled the pace and the puck from opening drop. In addition to the Lamoureux twins' efforts, Kessel and Kendall Coyne each had two goals and two assists while former Hanover, N.H., resident Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker each added a score and a helper.
That made for an easy afternoon for goaltender Molly Schaus, who stopped all 10 of the shots she faced. At the other end, Florence Schelling was bombarded by 53 shots of all makes and models.
"Any of these games you want to be going on all cylinders," Schaus said. "We're at the Olympics; it's kind of what we've been training for our whole lives. The first game (against Finland on Saturday) you kind of get those nerves out and we built on that and played really well. The team has done a great job of staying focused. The second that buzzer ended (against Finland) our focus shifted to Switzerland. Now we'll get back in there and digest this game and turn ahead for Canada on Wednesday."
The Canadians did their part to build the hype for the clash by remaining undefeated in the tournament with a 3-0 victory over Finland later Monday.
"Now that we have that bye into the semis we want that No. 1 seed," Monique Lamoureux said. "It might make our draw a little bit easier down the road. Any game against Canada we're going to be ready for and we know we're going to have to have our best game to be able to come out on top."
U.S. men arrive
The U.S. men's ice hockey team arrived in Sochi on Monday, determined to make amends for their loss in the gold medal game at the last Olympics in Vancouver.
A relatively young American team defied the odds to reach the final four years ago only to lose to Canada in overtime in a defeat that still stings.
"It was tough. Usually by the time you get the bitter taste of losing out of your mouth you're coming back to start another (NHL) season," said forward Patrick Kane. "But that one took a little while to get over with. You know four, five, six months and then you're thinking about it in the summer."
Ryan Miller said there were still plenty of positives the Americans could take from the experience they had in Vancouver.
They proved they could match it with any team, reaching the final undefeated, including a win over Canada in the preliminary round.
"That's part of the story that hasn't come out as much, just how quickly we came together and how positive we were and it's going to have to be the same feeling over here," Miller said.