HARTFORD, CONN., SEPT. 4 -- The Soviet hockey team stuck it to the U.S. team tonight. Benefiting from their only two extra-man opportunities and adding a shorthanded score in the third period, the Soviets rode a 5-1 victory into the semifinals of the Canada Cup.

The U.S. team pulled out all the stops in this one, including a successful challenge of Valeri Kamensky's stick with 6:33 left in the game. The move backfired when Vladimir Krutov scored on a dazzling two-on-one break with the Soviets a man down to make it 4-1.

The U.S. team, losing another hard-fought battle to superior talent, must await a Sunday match against Czechoslovakia at Sydney, Nova Scotia, before its future is determined. A victory or a tie will give the U.S. a semifinal berth. The U.S. could back in if winless Finland should upset Sweden earlier Sunday.

"Coming in, we felt the Swedes, Russia and Canada were the top three," said U.S. captain Rod Langway. "We expected to be fighting for the last spot. Winning our first two {over Finland and Sweden} was a big plus and we're still in control of what we can do."

The Americans pounded the Soviets physically from the opening shift and thereafter more than one Soviet rush was disrupted by the sound of skatesteps. But the Soviets have a great team and their power play is a sight to behold. Otherwise held even in the first period, they exploited penalties by Kevin Hatcher and Gary Suter to take a 2-0 lead.

Each goal came 16 seconds after referee Vladimir Subrt of Czechoslovakia blew his whistle and waved an American to the box. Still, it could have been much worse. Suter was assessed a five-minute major for charging when he blasted Andrei Lomakin, cutting him from his nose to above his left eye.

When Sergei Makarov slipped behind Hatcher and converted Krutov's pass with 4:44 left on Suter's penalty, it seemed the Soviets would break open the game. But penalty killing by such workhorses as Kelly Miller and Bob Brooke shut the door, temporarily at least.

Joe Mullen's goal brought the Americans into contention at midgame and they had several good chances before Sergei Svetlov split defensemen Langway and Hatcher for a sensational score that made it 3-1 with 1:30 left in the second period.

"I pushed him and had him turned, but he slipped between us," Langway said. "He had one hand on the stick and threw it at the net. It was a big goal to give up, coming when it did, but they're talented hockey players. You'll get beat once in a while."

U.S. Coach Bob Johnson said he noticed during this morning's skate that Kamensky's stick was curved more than the 1.5 centimeters permitted in international rules. He was hoping to challenge it with the U.S. already on a power play, but Kamensky never stepped on the ice during the only other U.S. advantage midway through the third period.

"I wanted it at the right time, hopefully when it would give us a five on three," Johnson said. "But he never came out during our only power play. We needed that second goal.

"When you play them, you need something good to happen. We have to get great goaltending and we need bounces, a garbage goal or two. We didn't get a bounce tonight."

They did get two shots on the power play, before Krutov stole the puck from Wayne Presley and converted a superb give-and-go with Alexei Kasatonov.

"We felt a particular satisfaction with that goal because if it happened otherwise it might have turned the game," said Soviet assistant coach Igor Dimitriev through an interpreter.

Sergei Mylnikov needed to make only 18 saves to earn his third straight victory. He has been the main man in the Soviet net since Evgeny Belosheikin was beaten by Sweden in the opener.

Tom Barrasso started for the U.S. and blocked 22 shots in an uneven performance. It was his first Canada Cup appearance since he took himself off the ice after yielding the first four goals of the 9-2 semifinal loss to Sweden in 1984.

"Their first goal {by Kamensky} was a bad one on my part, but otherwise I thought I played pretty well," Barrasso said. "We just didn't throw them off their game. We never really had them running around in their zone and we were all over the place."

The Soviets tend to do that to you.

Canada 5, Sweden 3: In Montreal, Mario Lemieux scored his second goal of the game on an assist from Wayne Gretzky to break a third-peiod tie and Team Canada went on to a Canada Cup victory over Sweden.

Mike Gartner scored for Team Canada, and Bengt Gustafsson for Sweden.

Czechoslovakia 5, Finland 2: In Sydney, Nova Scotia, Dusan Pasek had a goal and an assist to help the Czechoslovakians regain their scoring touch in a Canada Cup game.