The Big Red Machine got back in gear as Russia beat the Czech Republic 4-2 to kick off a potentially explosive Olympic hockey Super Sunday.

Evgeni Malkin scored twice and Viktor Kozlov and Pavel Datsyuk also counted to help the Russians bounce back from an upset loss to Slovakia and claim top spot in Group B.

Brilliant blue skies and spring-like conditions made it a prefect day to soak up the Olympic atmosphere but the place to be was inside an electric Canada Hockey Place where tickets were changing hands for thousands of dollars.

Canada play the United States and Sweden face Finland later and although medals will not be decided for another week, Super Sunday gave the sport center stage with a hat-trick of grudge matches featuring the world's six top-ranked teams.

Canadians have had little to celebrate in the way of medals on the second weekend of the Vancouver Games and nothing would make up for that disappointment more than a hockey win over their southern neighbors.

The hockey feast wraps up late in the evening with a Nordic showdown between reigning Olympic champions Sweden and Finland, the team they beat to claim the title in Turin.

After thrashing Latvia 8-2 in their opener the top-ranked Russians had looked ready to roll in Vancouver, rekindling memories of the glory days of the Big Red Machine when the Soviet Union ruled the Olympic ice.


But Russia's explosive attack fell silent against Slovakia, leaving them needing victory over the Czechs in a rematch of the 1998 Nagano final.

Malkin and Czech Tomas Plekanec traded powerplay goals in a fast-paced opening period and Kozlov had the only goal of the second to put Russia 2-1 up.

The turning-point came early in the final period when Alexander Ovechkin laid a bone-jarring hit on Jaromir Jagr, forcing a turnover at center ice which ended in Malkin's second goal and a 3-1 lead.

Whether it was an elbow or not it doesn't matter, they get the puck back and they score, said Jagr, who wears number 68 as a reminder of the year Soviet tanks rumbled into Prague and occupied the country.

The hits heal but that mistake doesn't heal and it cost us the game, he told reporters. It was bad feeling.

The Czechs continued to press, Zbynek Michalek trimming the Russian lead to one but could not complete the comeback as Datsyuk adding a late insurance marker into the empty net.