SOCHI, Russia — If this is the last Olympic hockey tournament for 43-year-old Teemu Selanne— and he said three Olympics ago that he intended to retire from the international stage — the Ducks and Finland winger went out with a great flourish and a bronze medal.
Selanne scored on a backhander against U.S. and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick at 1:27 of the second period for Finland’s first goal and converted a feed from Mikael Granlund during a third-period power play for his team's fourth goal as Finland steamrolled a dispirited Team USA, 5-0, in the bronze medal game Saturday at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Selanne, who has played in a hockey-record-tying six Olympics, won his third bronze medal to go with a silver he won in 2006. The career scoring leader in Olympic play, he's had 24 goals, 19 assists and 43 points in 37 Olympic contests.
Jussi Jokinen scored 11 seconds after Selanne’s first goal and Juuso Hietanen scored Finland’s third goal, at 6:10 of the third period on a long slap shot that got through a crowd in front of the U.S. net. Olli Maatta scored the final Finland goal, also on a power play.
The U.S. men, who were considered a contender for the gold medal and led the Olympic tournament in scoring through the quarterfinals, exited with shocking meekness and no goals in their last two games. They were blanked by Canada, 1-0, in the semifinals Friday.
The Americans were awarded two penalty shots on Saturday, both by sniper Patrick Kaneof the Chicago Blackhawks, but couldn’t get anything past Finland goalie Tuukka Rask. Built to be fast and physical, the U.S. squad ultimately lacked finesse and enough scoring. Kane had no goals in the tournament, which is surprising given the advantage his speed should have given him on the wider Olympic-size ice.
The U.S. men’s hockey team has not won a medal outside of North America since the 1972 team won a silver medal in Sapporo, Japan.
Finland's players received their medals following the game. Finland has won medals in three consecutive Olympics, having captured silver in 2006 and bronze in 2010 and in Sochi.
Selanne is the sixth player to win four medals in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament. He’s also the oldest medal winner in Olympic men’s hockey at 43 years, 234 days old.
The first period was eventful even though neither team scored.
Selanne took a penalty for tripping Kane at 3:53. That set up a scramble in Finland’s end that produced four shots, but Rask didn’t waver.
A few minutes later there was a mad scramble in the U.S. end, where Ryan Kesler blocked a shot with his shoulder or throat as the last line of defense behind Quick.
But Quick was in perfect position to stop a back-door shot by Selanne deep on the left side during a Finland power play, blocking the puck with his chest.
An odd call led to a penalty shot for the U.S. at 13:40. Finland defenseman Kimmo Timonen used his stick to nudge a broken stick in the path of the U.S. puck carrier, which is a no-no. Kane switched from forehand to backhand a few times before taking a backhander that went wide to the right of Rask.
Before the period ended, U.S. forward Max Pacioretty shot wide right on a breakaway and U.S. forward James van Riemsdyk took a clearing shot in the throat and was shaken. His mouthguard flew out but he was able to return to the bench for the start of the second period.
The second period was even more bizarre. The Finns scored twice in 11 seconds and Kane was awarded another penalty shot — and missed again.
Selanne, a sentimental favorite with the crowd, was set up by Granlund for a shot deep on the left side. Selanne finished it off with a backhander at 1:27. Jokinen, who plays for U.S. Coach Dan Bylsma on theNHL’s Pittsburgh Penguin, helped put Bylsma in a 2-0 hole by taking a beautiful cross-ice pass from Jori Lehtera and putting it into the open right side of the net at 1:38.
Kane was awarded the penalty shot at 6:24, after Leo Komarov was caught slashing Kane’s stick on a breakaway. Kane slowed down and stayed on his forehand but his shot hit the right post and the puck caromed out of danger.
The U.S. team’s missteps here will be debated for quite a while. Should Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan, a pure scorer, have been included on the roster? Or high-scoring New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo? The analysis will come quickly. But one thing is for certain: The U.S. team will go home without medals, and that has to be considered a failure after a promising start that included a shootout victory over host Russia.
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