Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

United States loses Olympic hockey bronze to Finland

SOCHI, Russia — At least they didn't break any furniture.

Then again, the United States men's hockey team's charter flight home wasn't scheduled to take off until today.

Though the United States' fourth-place Olympic finish Saturday was better than the sixth the Americans managed in 1998 — when several players pitched chairs and desks out of windows — there won't be many souvenirs worth hanging on to from Sochi, either.

A carefully constructed team, assembled by a legion of NHL scouts and executives through hundreds of hours of study and dozens of meetings, crumpled like a cheap tent at the hands of Finland in the bronze-medal game, an embarrassing 5-0 loss.

That came one night after defenseman Ryan Suter of the Wild said the United States "didn't show up to play" in a 1-0 semifinal loss to Canada.

Saturday's postmortem was filled with similar assessments.

"We just didn't show up," captain Zach Parise of the Wild said.

"Yeah, we did collapse," Suter said.

"We didn't show up. We let our country down," forward Max Pacioretty of the Canadiens said.

"My job is to stop the puck, and I didn't do that very well," goalie Jonathan Quick of the Kings said. "Team effort. We weren't good."

If you're looking for a specific reason for the mortification, another semifinal theme was brought up.

"We were passive," Parise said. "We had one forechecker at times, let them break out of their zone."

That would seem to cast some blame on the system installed by the coaches, led by Dan Bylsma of the Penguins. Bylsma blamed Saturday's debacle on the loss to Canada. Coveting a rematch against the team that beat them for the gold medal in 2010 at Vancouver, the Americans invested an overload of emotion into the semifinal, he said.

"We weren't able to respond and come back in this game," he said. "It wasn't there for us."

But the Finns were coming off an equally tough semifinal loss to a longtime rival, Sweden. Veteran Lighting defenseman Sami Salo said his team used experience to get motivated.

"We had a similar situation in Vancouver," said, Salo, who had two shots and was even in 17:05 of playing time. "Losing to the United States in the semifinal by big numbers (6-1), then coming back strong against the Slovaks in (winning) the bronze game. We were really looking forward to giving something back after losing to the United States in Vancouver.

"It's just the experience of this group. We had a brief meeting after (losing to Sweden) that you can't worry about that. Our goal coming to this competition was to get a medal. We still had one game left, one chance to get that medal, and we just regrouped and … unbelievable."

Finland and Jets forward Olli Jokinen said captain Teemu Selanne of the Ducks, 43 and in his sixth and last Olympics, spoke to the team before the game about how it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Selanne then went out and scored twice to get his fourth Olympic medal.

"What a great ending," Selanne said about his story.

The Americans face years of trying to figure out why they didn't get theirs.

Finland0235
United States0000
Finland0235
United States0000

First—No scoring. Penalties—Teemu Selanne, Finland (trip); Max Pacioretty, United States (high-stick); Kimmo Timonen, Finland (throwing a stick or any object); Sakari Salminen, Finland (trip).

Second—1, Finland, Teemu Selanne (Mikael Granlund, Lauri Korpikoski), 1:27. 2, Finland, Jussi Jokinen (Jori Lehtera, Petri Kontiola), 1:38. Penalties—Leo Komarov, Finlandland (slash); David Backes, United States (trip).

Third—3, Finland, Juuso Hietanen (Tuomo Ruutu, Sami Lepisto), 6:10. 4, Finland, Teemu Selanne (Mikael Granlund, Lauri Korpikoski), 9:06 (pp). 5, Finland, Olli Maatta (Jori Lehtera, Jussi Jokinen), 13:09 (pp). Penalties—Patrick Kane, United States (trip); T.J. Oshie, United States (interference); Ryan Suter, United States (high-stick); Patrick Kane, United States (slash). SOG—Finland 8-12-9—29. United States 12-10-5—27. Goalies—Finland, Tuukka Rask. United States, Jonathan Quick.

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