One game too late, the U.S. women hustled to loose pucks, finished their checks and showcased their superior talent. The Americans took an early lead and dominated Finland 4-0 to take home the bronze.
The U.S. women have a complete set of Olympic medals: gold from Nagano, silver from Salt Lake City, and now bronze.
Katie King scored two of her three goals in the first period Monday to give the Americans a three-goal lead, and they glided in the third-place game they would rather have watched on TV from their dressing room.
"It's hard to be excited because we came for gold," forward Kim Insalaco said.
"If you ask anyone on this team and they tell you they were pumped for this game, they aren't telling you the truth," forward Natalie Darwitz said.
The Americans expected to face rival Canada for the third time in the gold-medal match. But they ended up vying for bronze after losing to Sweden 3-2 in the semifinals.
Finland found itself smothered offensively - even with an extra skater - harassed by backchecking forwards and stingy defenseman. Despite having a power play early in the second period, the Finns didn't get a shot on goaltender Chanda Gunn for more than 11 minutes.
Gunn had to make just 14 saves.
It didn't take long for the Americans to give her a cushion.
Two-plus minutes after the puck dropped, Kelly Stephens deflected Julie Chu's shot past goaltender Noora Raty.
Off a crafty off-the-boards pass from Helen Resor, King carried the puck along the right boards, swooped across Raty and flipped the puck above her. King pumped her stick in the air, then had another reason to celebrate a few minutes later. Jenny Potter fed King with a pass up the middle of the ice, she outskated defenseman Heidi Pelttari and wristed a shot over Raty's stick.
The Americans made it 4-0 early in the second period on King's goal off a circle-to-circle pass from Chu.
Canada 4, Sweden 1
It wasn't the rematch with the Americans everyone expected, but Canada still sent upstart Sweden home with the same thrashing it had planned for its archrivals to capture its second straight Olympic gold medal.
Canada's relentless forechecking, heady passing and sturdy defense were practically flawless in a game just as one-sided as every other in the march through Italy, in which the Canadians outscored their opponents 46-2.
When it was over, the Canadians roared off their bench and hit goalie Charline Labonte so hard, they dislodged the net from its moorings. Danielle Goyette, their 40-year-old three-time Olympian, skated by herself to mid ice to throw her glove and stick, while Becky Kellar wrapped herself in the flag.
Jayna Hefford added a goal and an assist, and Caroline Ouellette and Cherie Piper also contributed goals while Canada dominated the first two periods. Gunilla Andersson scored just the second goal of the tournament against Canada in the third, ruining Labonte's shutout bid long after the Swedes still had hope.
"We showed Hockey Canada is dominant," Goyette said. "This makes it worth everything we did, all the months we spent working on this day. We didn't end up with the final matchup we expected, but we got the same result."
Germany 1, Russia 0 (SO)
Maritta Becker and Nikola Holmes scored shootout goals for Germany in the fifth-place game. Goalie Jennifer Harss stopped 19 shots in regulation and two more during a 10-minute overtime session before getting some offensive support from her teammates, who had been frustrated all game by Russian goalie Irina Gashennikova. Harss also stopped three shots during the shootout, and a fourth Russian's attempt sailed over the net.
Switzerland 11, Italy 0
Italian fans remained hopeful until the very end, not the least discouraged by another lopsided loss. They stood, waved flags and cheered, hoping for a goal in the closing minutes of the seventh-place game. And when Italy didn't get one, they remained on their feet and got even louder.
Switzerland, which was outscored 12-1 in losses to the United States, Finland and Germany in the preliminary round, then lost 6-2 to Russia in a classification game, led 4-0 after one period and 10-0 after two.
Italy, fielding a team only because it is the host country, was shut out for the third time in five games. Overall, Italy was outscored 48-3.