SOCHI, Russia -- Before the Olympic hockey tournament began, Russian superstar
joked that if his country were to prevail at the sport it once dominated internationally, “it means gold only costs $50 billion,” the price tag for the Sochi Games.
Apparently, $50 billion doesn't buy what it used to.
Despite assembling a powerfully talented lineup with immense scoring potential, Team Russia was eliminated from the hockey tournament Wednesday when it fell to Finland, 3-1, in a quarterfinal game at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
At the same time, Finland was the better team on Wednesday, overcoming an early 1-0 deficit on goals by Juhumatti Aaltonen, Ducks right wing
Selanne and Granlund assisted on each other's goals, displaying a remarkable affinity despite their considerable age gap. Selanne, 43, made his Olympic debut at the 1992 Albertville Games -- a few weeks before Granlund was born.
Finland will face traditional rival Sweden in one semifinal on Friday. The other semifinal will match the winners of Wednesday's late quarterfinal games, Canada vs. Latvia and the U.S. vs. the Czech Republic.
Russia scored first Wednesday, on a power play it had gained when Granlund was sent off for holding.
Finland responded quickly.
Selanne gave Finland the lead with help from his 21-year-old linemate. Granlund used his strength and speed to get around Russia and Kings defenseman
Selanne also extended his own record for being the oldest player to score a goal in the Olympic hockey tournament, 43 years, 261 days.
A penalty that was painful for Russia in more ways than one led to Finland's third goal and silenced the crowd.
Russia defensemen Alexei Emelin upended Finnish forward
Finland capitalized on the man advantage at 5:37, controlling the puck and working it down low, where Selanne took a shot. He didn't get all of it but he got enough for it to bounce in front, where Granlund pounced on it and tucked it inside the post.
After that goal, Russia Coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov pulled starting goalie Semyon Varlamov and replaced him with
Rask stopped Syomin on a breakaway with a nifty sliding stop, and Finland went on to kill a penalty against Aaltonen in the second period.
Russia pressed frantically in the third period, urged on by the hometown crowd, but the Finns continued to block shots and clamp down defensively.