Less than 24 hours after losing a 1-0 heart breaker to Canada, the United States men’s team had to play a consolation game for the bronze medal against Finland. This would be a rematch of the 2010 semifinal, where the Americans routed the Fins 6-1 en route to the gold medal match in Vancouver where Canada famously won in overtime.
This time around it was Finland posting a 5-goal margin of victory as Tuukka Rask was able to follow up what Canada’s Carey Price did Friday and shut out the Americans. But it didn’t come easy as the United States was given two penalty shot opportunities. Both were taken by Patrick Kane and he becomes the first player to take two penalty shots in the Olympics. His first opportunity came in the first period when he attemped to deake backhanded but ran out of space as the puck hit the side of the net. His second chance came in the second period when he fired a wrist shot off the crossbar behind Rask.
Kane wasn’t impressed with his overall performance. He said after the game “I wasn’t good enough to help the team win a medal. Obviously, I was expected to do a lot more. When you come over here and put up zero goals and four assists in six games, that’s not the numbers you want to see.”
After a scoreless first period that saw the U.S. out shoot Finland 12-8, the Fins used goals by Teemu Selanne and Jussi Jokinen 11 seconds apart to change the pace of the game in their favor. The second goal was a beautiful one-timer that left the net behind Jonathan Quick wide open.
Quick was fast to shoot down any suggestion that he and his teammates weren’t up for the game because of it coming the next day after the Canada loss. “We do that all year long. We’re professionals. We play back-to-backs all year long. There’s no reason we show up and not piss a drop,” he said.
After his teammates gave him a ton of goal support over the first four games of the tournament, they simply failed to give Quick any support when it mattered the most. After scoring 20 goals over 11 periods, they basically went seven periods without scoring a goal. Their last goal of the tournament came when Phil Kessel scores 2:01 into the third period of their 5-2 quarterfinal win over Czech Republic.
While Quick did take blame and accountability for his lack of play against Finland, he shouldn’t bear all the blame. “My job is to stop the puck, and I didn’t do that very well,” he said after the game. “Team effort. We weren’t good.”
Despite trailing 2-0 after 40 minutes, the Americans still had a chance to make it a game. But all hopes were dashed when Selanne and Jusso Hietanen scored three minutes apart midway through the third period. Selanne’s second of the night came on the power play when T.J. Oshie took a penalty for interference. And for good measure Olli Maatta added a power play goal courtesy of Ryan Suter for good measure with under seven minutes left.
The shots were nearly even, with Finland firing 29 shots compared to the United States having 27. Fins managed to score two power play goals on 9:30 of power play time while the Americans failed to score on two opportunities.
With the win, they become the first country to medal five times since NHL players began participating in the Olympics. Their recent stretch began with bronze at Nagano ’98, silver at Turin ’06, consecutive bronze medals at Vancouver ’10 and this time around in Sochi.
The United States still has struggled at winning medals at Olympics not played in North America. They have won a medal four times the last five Olympics in North America (Calgary ’88 they finished seventh) and the last time they won a medal outside North America was Supporo ’72. You’ll have to go back even further to Cortina d’Ampezzo ’56 to the last time they won a medal in a European Olympics. They last time the United States appeared in a bronze medal match was Albertville ’92 when they fell to Czechoslovakia 6-1.