Finland cruises to bronze medal in blowout of U.S.
SOCHI – The chance to win another Olympic medal for Finland was one of the reasons Teemu Selanne threw his golf clubs into a pond at the end of a promotional video in which he announced he would come back for one more season.
Mission accomplished for the 43-year-old legend.
Selanne added a third bronze medal to his collection of hardware Saturday by scoring his third and fourth goals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics in a 5-0 victory against the United States in the bronze-medal game at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
Selanne, who has already announced that this will be his last season in the NHL and his last Olympics, finishes his Olympic career with four medals and 24 goals in six tournaments. He helped Finland win the silver medal in the 2006 Torino Olympics and the bronze medal in 1998 in Nagano, 2010 in Vancouver and now 2014, when he also served as the Finnish captain. He also played in the Olympics in 1992 and 2002.
Finland has won a medal in four of the five Olympics that have included NHL players and in five of the past six overall. Its haul includes one silver medal and four bronze medals.
On Sunday, when Canada plays in the gold-medal game against Sweden, it will become the only other country with at least three medals since the NHL started sending players to the Olympics in 1998.
Finland's blowout victory also served as a bit of payback for 2010, when the U.S. thrashed the Finns, 6-1, in the semifinals.
The Americans couldn't cash in on an opportunity to medal in back-to-back Olympics for the first time since 1956 and 1960. They took home the silver four years ago in Vancouver in an overtime loss to Canada but were shutout in their final two games here after scoring 19 goals in their first four.
Canada beat them 1-0 in the semifinals on Friday.
The Finns had a 2-0 lead going into the third period on goals from Selanne and Jussi Jokinen scored 11 seconds apart early in the second, But they opened it up with three goals in a span of less than seven minutes.
Juuso Hietanen scored at 6:10, just as a tripping penalty to Patrick Kane expired, to make it 3-0. Selanne scored his second of the game 2:56 later and Olli Maatta cashed in on a power-play goal with 6:51 to play.
Tuukka Rask, who could not play against Sweden in the semifinals because of an illness, was back in the net for Finland on Saturday and he made 27 saves.
Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves in the 1-0 loss to Canada on Friday, was beaten five times on 29 shots Saturday.
U.S. forward Kane had a rare double as he was awarded two penalty shots within the first 26:24 of the game, but he couldn't convert on either. Kane deked to his backhand but shot wide right on his first attempt 13:40 into the first period, and rang a hard shot off the right post on his second attempt, 6:24 into the second period.
The Finns needed 11 seconds early in the second period to build a two-goal lead. Selanne scored at 1:27 and then Jokinen scored at 1:38. The U.S.'s top defense pairing of Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh was on the ice for both goals.
Selanne got the Finns on the board thanks in part to a strong play in the neutral zone from Mikael Granlund, who beat James van Riemsdyk to the puck and was able to backhand a pass over to Selanne. The Finnish captain did the rest with a hard, low backhanded shot that snuck inside the left post.
Jokinen scored 11 seconds later on what was really a broken defensive play by the U.S.
Jori Lehtera was able to pass the puck around Ryan McDonagh from the left circle. Ryan Suter was caught in no-man's land, unable to pick off the pass but also unable to defend Jokinen once he got the puck. Quick was also high out of the crease near the left circle, so he wasn't able to get back across to stop Jokinen's one-timer, although he tried to get it with his glove.
The Americans had a couple of chances early, but couldn't solve Rask, who made a strong pad save on van Riemsdyk's between-the-legs shot from the right post during a U.S. power play 4:21 into the game.
Finland would have taken a 1-0 lead a few minutes later had it not been for Ryan Kesler, who had to step into the crease for Quick during a mad scramble around the blue paint and block a shot that was targeted for the back of the net.
Max Pacioretty had a breakaway with 1:09 remaining in the first period, but fired wide. Finland's Sakari Salminen was called for tripping on the play, but the Americans didn't do anything with the man-advantage.
Selanne scored shortly after Salminen's power play expired early in the second period. It was all the Finns would need.