FINAL SCORE: Finland 5, USA 0
The high-scoring Americans entered this weekend as a favorite to capture their first Olympic hockey gold medal since 1980. They'll come home empty handed after a embarrassing 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze medal match.
It's not hard to pinpoint where the train left the track for the Americans. The Finns tallied twice in an 11-second span early in the second period, exposing Team USA's top defensive pair of Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh in the process. That punch to the gut took the fight out of the Americans who, outside of the second of two failed penalty shot chances by the suddenly ham-fisted Patrick Kane, generated few legitimate scoring chances during the final 40 minutes against a tenacious Finnish defense.
It was a miserable finish to a tournament that began with so much promise and ended with Team USA failing to score during the final 137:59, and being shut out by both Canada and Finland. Ultimately, the Americans were beaten at their own game with both the Canadians and the Finns getting better goaltending and playing a gummier brand of defense.
But it's not the losses that will be remembered so much as the way the Americans went out. Outside of Ryan Callahan, whose fight lacks an off button, there wasn't enough will on this team when it mattered most. Facing heavy sledding against Canada, they failed to adjust their game to meet the challenge. But down early to the Finns, they simply mailed it in, going through the motions of competition rather than paying the price demanded of someone who puts on that sweater.
Forget the medal. There was pride on the line, both their own and that of their nation and they played like they had a plane to catch. Shameful.
USA Hockey could hold their heads high after that 1-0 semifinal loss to Canada. After this one, some of those heads will roll.
To get a better sense of the flow of the game, scroll down to the bottom of the page and read your way back up.
12:17: And that's it. Finland takes the bronze with a 5-0 thrashing of a disinterested Team USA. Going to be a lot of questions asked and fingers pointed after that effort.
After scoring 19 goals in regulation through their first four games, Team USA is shut out twice in the medal round and finishes on a 137:59 goalless drought.
12:15: Fowler had Selanne lined up in the corner, but laid off. Both eyes on getting both of them back to Anaheim in one piece there. Team USA back to full strength with just under 90 seconds to go.
12:14: Patrick Kane to the box for slashing with 4:04 left in the third. It's Teemu time.
12:13: Team USA with just four shots on goal through the first 16 minutes of the third and not one scoring chance. Heartless.
12:12: This will be Finland's sixth medal in the last eight Olympic games. What an amazing legacy of success and a tribute to their ability to maintain their intensity with a bronze medal on the line.
12:08: TEAM FINLAND GOAL! Olli Maatta, who really deserved one, makes it 5-0, beating Quick to the short side off a beautiful feed from Lehtera. Team USA officials are now petitioning for running time.
12:06: Just over eight minutes left. Only question now is can Finland get Teemu the hatty? Ryan Suter to the box for high-sticking Tuomo Ruuttu with just over seven to go. Just a lazy, senseless penalty.
12:05: Think Bobby Ryan is available to help these guys spell intensity? What an embarrassing effort over the past 40 minutes for Team USA.
12:00: That's Selanne's 24th career goal, most by any player in Olympic history.
11:58:TEAM FINLAND GOAL! Teemu Selanne, on the power play. Pavelski backs off the Flash, leaving him open in the slot to take a pass from Granlund. And that's church for Team USA.
11:54: Just over 11 minutes remaining in this one and Finland back to the power play with T.J. Oshie going to the box.
11:53: TEAM FINLAND GOAL! Finland makes it 3-0 just as the power play ends. Think that was Hietanen with a point blast that eluded a crowd in front and beat Quick glove side.
11:50: Patrick Kane trips up Olli Jokinen as he breaks out of the defensive zone. Team USA on the PK with 15:49 to go in the third.
11:48: Finland almost makes it a three-goal lead as Lehtera deflects a shot-pass directly in front of Quick, but the keeper makes another big stop.
11:46: And the puck drops on the third period.
11:43: Olli Maatta, 19, leads all Finns with 12:32. Last month, the kid couldn't believe he'd made the team. Today, he's been their best player with a medal on the line--rock solid on D, smart in transition and he's chipped in with two shots.
11:40: Parise leading Team USA 's forwards with 13:53 TOI through two. Dustin Brown, equally ineffective, has played just 3:31.
11:35: Kane, five shots today. Kessel and Parise--zero shots combined despite playing more than 26 minutes between them.
11:32: You know Kane is going to get roasted by fans if the Americans can't pull this one out in the third, but the reality is he's been Team USA's most engaged and creative player today. His puck luck has been terrible, but he's probably generated more chances than the rest of the team combined. If you're determined to plant the goat horns on someone, look to Phil Kessel, who fattened up his stats on minnows like Slovenia but has been MIA since the first period against Canada, and Zach Parise, an empty sweater for much of the tournament.
11:30: And that's the end of two. Team USA's scoring drought extends to 118 minutes after a point shot in the dying seconds slides just to the right of Rask. Twenty minutes from going home empty-handed, that bronze medal doesn't look so bad, does it?
11:24: Another one-and-done effort for Team USA. They're getting pucks to the net, but Finland is adroitly clearing rebounds and preventing the Americans from those second and third chances
11:22: There's a yard sale going on during this power play. A stick and a helmet on the ice clogging up the lanes to help Team USA.
11:18: Team USA to the box. Backes called for the trip in the offensive zone.
11:15: Wheeler getting more ice than he has at any point in this tournament. Skating now with Kessel and Pavelski.
11:13: Nearing the midway point of this one and this is playing out exactly as Finland wanted. They've established their defensive structure, limited Team USA's chances and have capitalized on two of four high-end chances. Couldn't have scripted it better.
11:12: Dan Bylsma starting to mix up his lines earlier than he did yesterday. Smart move. JVR to Backes/Callahan line for that shift. We'll see what he does with Dustin Brown.
11:09: Kane...breakaway...Penalty shot!...Kane to take it...picks it up at center ice...slowly skates in like T.J. Oshie...and hits the post with his wrister! Had room on Rask's glove side but rings it off the iron.
11:08: Another horrible coverage breakdown by Suter-McDonagh pair, but Quick is able to make the stop and keep this game within reach.
11:06: A brutal shift from Team USA, but it's not like they're lacking effort overall in this one. When you see Kesler and Pavelski and Callahan sacrificing the body time and again, you know this game matters. That shift just got away from them and the way Rask looks right now, that hole might be a goal too deep.
11:04: That was Team USA's top defensive pair of Suter and McDonagh on the ice for both of those goals. The Americans look stunned,
11:03: Selanne put Finland on the board first just as five-on-five play resumed. McDonagh lost sight of his check and the Finnish Flash beats Quick with a backhander short side. Defensive breakdown left Jussi Jokinen alone in the slot where he beat Quick with a wrister.
11:01: TEAM FINLAND GOALS! Teemu Selanne and Jussi Jokinen 11 seconds apart! Dan Bylsma calls time out.
11:00: Americans get their best chance just after power play ends as a skipping puck nearly eludes Rask. We're back to full-strength.
10:59: Puck drops for the second period. Tournament's top offense has now gone 98 minutes without a goal.
10:55: Team USA really missing Paul Martin's puck-moving skills on the back end. And geez, has his partner Brooks Orpik been exposed without him. The Finns caught him flat-footed at least three times during the first.
10:51: Probably a better period for Team USA than what they offered yesterday, but not by much. They managed to generate better scoring opportunities with the extra man than they did against Canada, but struggled to make their presence felt in the middle of the ice again. They're not doing enough to put the pressure on Tuukka Rask, who looks really big in the net so far.
10:50: James van Riemsdyk took a Finnish clearing attempt in the face in the dying seconds of the first. Hard to tell if it got him in the mouth of the throat. Either way, expect him to be ready to go in the second.
10:47: USA outshoots Finland 11-8 officially, but that count is wildly off the mark. I had Finland with 14 shots after two goalmouth scrambles that featured several in-close whacks. Think this one got away from the scorer.
10:44: That's the end of the first, no score. Team USA will carry 51 seconds worth of power play time into the second.
10:43: Joe Pavelski sends Max Pacioretty in on a breakaway bid in the final minute, but he shoots it wide. Finland to the box on the ensuing play, Team USA with second PP chance.
10:40: More evidence of Kane's continuing struggles: has the biscuit alone to the left of Rask, tries to drive the net and has the puck roll off his blade. Just not his tournament.
10:38: If you were wondering, Bylsma selected Kane because he had to go with one of the five skaters on the ice. T.J. Oshie was on the bench at the time of the infraction and wasn't eligible.
10:32: Kimmo Timonen shoots broken stick at puck carrier. Team USA penalty shot. T.J. Oshie not getting the call. It's Patrick Kane....stickhandles...goes to the backhand...shoots it wide. Had room above the left pad. but couldn't get it on target.
10:29: Sami Vaatanen and Olli Maatta continue to impress for the Finns. Both playing well beyond their years. Calm, collected under pressure.
10:28: Finland getting way too many second and third whacks at the puck in front of Quick. American defense has to start clearing the crease more aggressively. Team USA back to full strength.
10:24: Clean face-off win for Finland leads to a chance for Selanne at the side of the net. Big stop by Quick.
10:23: Max Pacioretty going to the box for high-sticking.
10:20: Wild scramble in front of the Team USA net, but somehow Jonathan Quick keeps a clean sheet. That was the Jussi Jokinen line applying the pressure.
10:18: Furious pressure by the Americans, with van Riemsdyk hammering away at the side of the net for the best chance. Finland at full strength.
10:17: Finland just 60 percent (six of 10) on the penalty kill in the tournament.
10:15: No shots on goal for either side in the first three minutes...USA going on the power play. Teemu Selanne heads to the box after hauling down Patrick Kane. Team USA to the power play at 3:57 of first.
10:10: The puck drops and we're underway...
9:30: Welcome to our live coverage of USA's game vs. Finland for the bronze medal (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN).
The bronze isn't the prize that Team USA wanted to bring home from Sochi, but a win today over the Finns would be a significant achievement nonetheless: It would earn the Americans their first overseas Olympic hockey medal since 1972 and mark their first back-to-back medals since 1956-60.
Yesterday's Justin Bieber bet sign:
For what it's worth, Team USA is 7-3-2 against Finland all-time in Olympic competition, including 2-1 in the NHL player era:
Feb. 26, 2010 -- USA 6, Finland 1
Feb. 22, 2006 -- Finland 4, USA 3
Feb. 15, 2002 -- USA 6, Finland 0
Team USA wearing their blues today. Didn't we all want to see them in those white throwbacks?
Team USA is going with the same lines it started in yesterday's loss to Canada:
Dustin Brown – David Backes – Ryan Callahan
Zach Parise – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Ryan Suter - Ryan McDonagh
Cam Fowler – Kevin Shattenkirk
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Scratched: Jimmy Howard, Derek Stepan, Paul Martin
Finland will have a new look up front without Juhamatti Aaltonen who scored the tying goal in the team's elimination win over Russia. He was hurt in yesterday's loss to Sweden.
Lauri Korpikoski-Mikael Granlund-Teemu Selänne
Leo Komarov- Olli Jokinen-Tuomo Ruutu
Jussi Jokinen-Petri Kontiola-Jori Lehterä
Sakari Salminen-Jarkko Immonen-Antti Pihlström
Kimmo Timonen-Sami Vatanen
Olli Määttä-Sami Salo
Sami Lepistö-Juuso Hietanen
Sami Väänänen-Lasse Kukkonen
Tuukka Rask, too sick to start yesterday's semifinal vs. Sweden, is back in the net for Finland. Antti Niemi is the backup, with Kari Lehtonen, who filled in for the 2-1 loss, in the stands.
Today's referees: Konstantin Olenin of Russia and Tim Peel of the United States.