February 22, 2014

U.S. men blown out in bronze medal game by Finland

By Jesse Connolly

U.S. defenseman John Carlson (Marlborough, Mass.) skates away as Finland celebrates a 5-0 victory in the bronze medal game. (Getty Images)

After allowing two goals early in the second period, the United States could never recover, falling by a score of 5-0 in the bronze medal game to Finland.

The Americans seemed to pick up right where they left off in their 1-0 loss to Canada, again failing to generate offense. Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask stopped all 27 shots he faced, only five of which came in a third period that began with the Americans trailing by just two.

Teemu Selanne opened the scoring with what proved to be the game-winner 1:27 into the middle frame, and Jussi Jokinen made it 2-0 just 11 seconds later, prompting a timeout by U.S. coach Dan Bylsma.

The move seemed to wake up his squad for the time being, but the Americans couldn't cut the lead in half, including on Patrick Kane's second penalty shot of the contest at the 6:24 mark of the second period.

"I think through four games in this tournament, our team had played very well, had some good victories," Bylsma told NHL.com. "I think the fifth game (against Canada) took a lot out of us, took a lot out of us emotionally. Getting back to that [level] in this game was not there for us."

Finland tacked on three goals in the third, including the 43-year-old Selanne's second of the night.

"We believed that we can win the bronze," said Selanne. "I'm so proud of my guys. We were talking before the game: 'Let's play for ourselves. We deserve a great ending.' And we got that. Nobody really believed in us, but we did."

Pride was an emotion the dejected U.S. players certainly weren't feeling after two disheartening efforts to close out the tournament.

"Coming into the final round I thought we were playing well," said team captain Zach Parise. "I'm kind of embarrassed where we're at now."

While gold was the ultimate goal for a U.S. squad that nabbed silver in 2010 in Vancouver, going home empty-handed is a tough pill to swallow.

"It feels like you played this tournament for nothing," Blake Wheeler said. "You win that quarterfinal game, you get excited because you know you're going to play for a medal and you come away with nothing. Not much to say, just disappointing; sour I guess. A medal's a medal and it's going to be with you forever, and we couldn't come up with one and that's the part that's most frustrating."

Jonathan Quick (Hamden, Conn.), who stood on his head with a 36-save performance the day prior against Canada, finished with 24 saves on 29 shots. Fellow New Englanders John Carlson (Marlborough, Mass.) and Max Pacioretty each finished with an even plus-minus rating and one shot on goal in the blowout loss.

"We didn't show up," Pacioretty said. "We let our country down; that's it."

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com