SOCHI, Russia – The entire concept of a bronze-medal game is a largely unfamiliar one to North American professional athletes. There is no Less-Than-Super Bowl, no Final Next-Best Four and no losers’ bracket in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The challenge for the players on the United States men’s hockey team Saturday, then, was to pick themselves back up after a crushing loss the night before and summon the will to compete in a game being played for the equivalent of a consolation prize. Or at least to pretend to.
Debate, if you want, whether the Americans’ failure Saturday night, in a thorough 5-0 loss to Finland, was the result of being merely outplayed — or out-hustled, out-hearted. What is not debatable is the fact the U.S. – arguably the most impressive team in the tournament’s preliminary round — will be going home without medals for the seventh time in the past nine Winter Games.
Teemu Selanne, Finland’s 43-year-old captain and national treasure, scored a pair of goals in his Olympics farewell, and goalie Tuukka Rask stopped 27 U.S. shots – including a pair of Patrick Kane penalty-shot tries — in the shutout, as the Finns earned medals for the fifth time in the past six Olympic tournaments. Selanne, who became the oldest medal winner in Olympics hockey history, has been on the team for all five.
Selanne scored on a backhander past Quick one minute 27 seconds into the second period, and before the goal could even be announced to the crowd at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the U.S. committed a turnover in the neutral zone, leading to a goal by Jokinen, who took a pass from Jori Lehtera and rammed it home, with Quick out of position. The goals were a mere 11 seconds apart.
Any hopes of a U.S. comeback were squashed on a trio of power-play goals in a five-minute span of the third period by Finland’s Jusso Hietanen, Selanne and Olli Maatta.
After scoring 20 goals in their first four games of the tournament, the U.S. failed to score over its last six periods of play, getting shut out by Canada’s Carey Price in the semifinals loss on Friday night, and by Rask a night later.
Earlier updates while game was in progress:
Update 12:17 p.m.: Finland wins, 5-0, as a tournament that started so well for the U.S. ends in disappointment.
Update 12:15 p.m.: The Kane penalty is killed, and less than 90 seconds remain.
Update 12:11 p.m.: Yet another penalty against the Americans, as things continue to unravel. Patrick Kane gets sent to the box for slashing with 4:04 to play.
Update 12:08 p.m.: Olli Maatta scores on the power play for Finland, making it 5-0 with 6:51 to play. That’s three power-play goals in the third period for the Finns.
Update 12:07 p.m.: Mike Wise is not expecting another Miracle.
I’m thinking it’s going to tough here for Team USA to take home the bronze in men’s hockey. Man, Finland has medaled in 6 of last 8 Games.— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 22, 2014
Update 12:06 p.m.: Another penalty on the U.S., this time on Ryan Suter for high-sticking.
Update 11:59 a.m.: Teemu Selanne scores his second goal of the day from right in front of Jonathan Quick off a great pass from Mikael Granlund. The power-play goal makes it 4-0 Finland.
Update 11:56 a.m.: T.J. Oshie takes an interference penalty, and Finland goes on the power play again.
Update 11:53 a.m.: Juuso Hietanen scores for Finland on a long-range blast through traffic to give the Finns a 3-0 lead with 13:50 to play in the third period. The Americans are in serious trouble.
Update 11:50 a.m.: The third period is underway, and while the Americans controlled possession for the first few minutes, Patrick Kane just took a tripping penalty in the neutral zone.
A pair of second-period goals 11 seconds apart has given Finland a 2-0 lead over the U.S. in the bronze-medal game of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics men’s hockey tournament, leaving the Americans 20 minutes away from being sent home without medals.
Teemu Selanne, the Finns’ 43-year-old captain, scored on a backhander past U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick one minute 27 seconds into the period, and before the goal could even be announced to the crowd at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the U.S. committed a turnover in the neutral zone, leading to a goal by Jussi Jokinen, who took a pass from Jori Lehtera and rammed it home.
U.S. right wing Patrick Kane, who missed a penalty shot try in the first period, got another chance in the second, when he was slashed on a breakaway try. But this time, Kane’s glove-side try clanged off the right goalpost.
Update 11:31 a.m.: An American deflection goes just wide in the final seconds, hitting the outside of the net to deceive the U.S. bench. Finland leads 2-0 after two periods. A tough road ahead for the Americans to avoid getting shut out of the medals.
Update 11:28 a.m.: The Finnish continue to look a step ahead of the Americans. The U.S. is closing in on five straight scoreless periods.
Update 11:21 a.m.: The U.S. gets a huge penalty kill, limiting Finland to two shots on goal during the power play. Less than six minutes remain in the second period.
Update 11:17 a.m.: David Backes gets called for tripping as we’ve passed the midpoint of the second period.
Update 11:08 a.m.: Patrick Kane gets a second chance at a penalty shot after he is slashed on a breakaway. He stayed to the forehand this time, but his wrister hits the right post and bounces out.
Update 11:07 a.m.: A good shift of sustained pressure from the Americans’ top line, but still nothing to show for it more than six minutes into the second period.
Update 11:02 a.m.: Jussi Jokinen makes it 2-0 Finland, scoring after a bad turnover in the neutral zone. On a 2-on-2, Jori Lehtera found Jokinen, who scored into a mostly open net. The goals came 11 seconds apart.
Update 11:00 a.m.: Teemu Selanne beats Jonathan Quick with a backhand shot to give Finland a 1-0 lead 1:27 into the second period. The play came on a rush and Selanne got by Ryan McDonagh to get the shot off.
After an entertaining opening period in the bronze medal game of the Sochi 2014 Olympic men’s hockey tournament, the United States and Finland are locked in a scoreless tie, with the respective goalies, the Americans’ Jonathan Quick and Finland’s Tuukka Rask, both turning away numerous scoring chances.
At one point, during a furious barrage of Finland shots, Quick required help from center Ryan Kesler, who dove into the crease when Quick was out of position and stopped a shot with his chest.
With just less than seven minutes left, the U.S. was awarded a penalty shot after a bizarre play. Kesler was carrying the puck through open ice on the right side when Finland’s Kimmo Timonen fired a piece of a broken stick — still laying on the ice several minutes after it had been left there — in Kesler’s way. The referees whistled Timonen for interference and granted the U.S. a penalty shot.
On the penalty shot, U.S. right wing Patrick Kane tried to beat Rask glove-side, but missed wide of the net.
The U.S. will have 51 seconds left on a power play when the second period begins.
Update 10:43 a.m.: The first period ends scoreless, thanks to world-class goaltending on both ends. James van Riemsdyk took a puck to the face in the final seconds, but he appears to be okay. The U.S. will have 51 seconds left on the power play when the second period starts.
Update 10:41 a.m.: Oshie helped spring Pacioretty on a semi-breakaway, but Pacioretty missed wide. Finland gets called for a penalty on the play and the Americans head back to the power play.
Update 10:34 a.m.: T.J. Oshie, last week’s shootout hero, was not eligible to take that penalty shot because it had to be taken by a player who was on the ice at the time of the infraction.
Update 10:31 a.m.: Kimmo Timonen gets called for a bizarre penalty, sliding a broken stick toward Ryan Kesler as Kesler carried the puck in the offensive zone. The U.S. is awarded a penalty shot, which is taken by Patrick Kane. Rask denies Kane on the backhand to keep the game scoreless. Definitely some excitement there.
Update 10:30 a.m.: A pretty cool view of the arena from the outside.
Update 10:26 a.m.: The Americans kill the Pacioretty penalty despite the Finns spending most of the power play in the offensive zone. Impressive how the U.S. penalty killers are still diving in front of shots. Joe Pavelski had a nice block during the penalty kill.
Update 10:22 a.m.: Now Finland will have its first power-play opportunity after Max Pacioretty caught Jarkko Immonen with a high stick.
Update 10:19 a.m.: The U.S. withstands a mad scramble in front of Jonathan Quick, as the goaltender makes multiple saves from the seat of his pants to keep the game scoreless.
Update 10:18 a.m.: Rask, apparently recovered from his bout with the flu, helps the Finns kill the penalty. James van Riemsdyk tried a through-the-legs shot from in close on one chance that Rask denied.
Update 10:15 a.m.: The Americans will get an early power play as Patrick Kane draws a plenty blatant penalty against Teemu Selanne. The U.S. will want to do better with the man-advantage than it did yesterday.
Update 10:13 a.m.: The buzz surrounding this game is not quite as strong as during previous games during the tournament.
Lots of empty seats at the start of U.S.-Finland hockey bronze medal game. It’s pretty dead in here.— Brian Costa (@BrianCostaWSJ) February 22, 2014
Update 10:10 a.m.: The United States and Finland are underway. The Finnish goalie has apparently made friends with an American figure skater.
Some 20 hours after suffering a crushing loss to Canada, 1-0, in its semifinal game the night before, the Team USA men’s hockey team is back on the ice at the Bolshoy Ice Dome tonight, facing Finland in the bronze medal game (7 p.m. Sochi time, 10 a.m. in D.C.). The Finns are here after losing to Sweden on Friday afternoon.
The Finns are a compelling story and a better team, at least in the Olympics, than many would believe. They have medaled in four of the last five Olympics, the only nation that can say that. And they are led by 43-year-old legend Teemu Selanne, who is playing in his final Olympics game. If the Finns win, he would become the oldest medal-winner in Olympics hockey history, a title currently held by Russian legend Igor Larionov, who was 41 when he won a bronze in 2002.
Tuukka Rask is back in goal for Finland after missing the semifinal game against Sweden with the flu.
Mike Wise: For U.S., the ‘Miracle’ still lingers