All Finland does at Olympic hockey tournaments is win medals.
On Saturday, the Finns became the first country to medal four times since NHLers began participating 16 years ago, trouncing the Americans 5-0 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in the bronze medal game.
After a scoreless opening period, Finland broke out early in the second when Teemu Selanne scored the first of his two goals just 1:27 into the frame. Jussi Jokinen scored 11 seconds later to give the Finns a 2-0 lead, and they broke the game wide open in the third period with three goals in a seven-minute span from Jusso Hietanen, Selanne (his fourth of the tournament) and Olli Maatta.
Tuukka Rask, back in goal after missing Saturday’s semifinal loss to Sweden with illness, stopped all 27 shots faced for his first shutout of these Olympics.
As mentioned above, the win caps off a remarkable 16-year stretch for the Finns: bronze at Nagano ’98, silver at Turin ’06, bronze at Vancouver ’10 and bronze once again in Sochi. The Finnish performance at this tournament was very impressive, especially considering the team was ravaged by injury — Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu and Tampa Bay’s Valtteri Filppula were ruled out by injury just prior to the start of the Games, and Florida rookie Aleksander Barkov was shelved during the group stage following a knee ailment. Finland’s only two losses in this tournament came to the teams playing for gold, too — they lost 2-1 in OT to Canada in the group stage, and 2-1 to the Swedes in Friday’s semifinal.
While the Finns have much to be proud of, Saturday was a massive disappointment for the Americans.
After losing 1-0 to Canada in the semis on Friday, head coach Dan Bylsma said the goal was to come home with a bronze medal. But the U.S. never got its game on track against the Finns, exhibited by Patrick Kane missing a pair of penalty shots. The Americans also failed to score for the second game in a row, a startling reversal of fortune given they scored 20 goals over their first four games of the tournament, often looking like a dynamic offensive force.
U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick was on the hook for all five Finnish goals, making 24 saves in the loss.