Teemu Selanne, Finland oust Russia from men's Olympic hockey
Tuukka Rask makes 37 saves for Finland
The dream is over.
Russia wanted nothing less than a gold medal as the host country of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, but it will not get a medal period.
Despite a wealth of scoring potential, the Russians found the net just once in a 3-1 loss to Finland in the Olympic quarter-finals at Bolshoy Ice Dome Wednesday.
Prior to the start of the Olympic Games, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin told CBC if Russia won gold medals in every event, but failed to win gold in hockey the Olympics would be considered a failure in his country.
Finland will play Sweden in the semifinal to decide which country advances to the gold medal game Sunday.
“It sucks,” said Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. “What can I say? No emotions right now. I just feel empty, disappointed and empty inside. It’s hard to say if this is a maximal or minimal failure. Failure is failure. How can you measure it?”
Making sense of it all
Finnish veteran Teemu Selanne wasn’t worried about Russia playing lights out because it was the host team.
“We knew they played four games in five nights and we might have a little more extra jump than them,” said the Finnish Flash. “We had to make sure they had to grind every opportunity for what they get and I think it worked.”
Selanne added there really wasn’t much separation between the first-ranked and fifth-ranked teams in the tournament.
The Finns entered the Olympics without two key centres, Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild and Valteri Filppula of the Tampa Bay Lightning, due to injury, but managed to play a strong team game nonetheless.
Thanks in a large part to the steady, if not spectacular goaltending of Tuukka Rask, the Finns played an up-tempo smart defensive game that simply stifled the Russians.
Best and worst of Ilya
Former NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk of Russia took a silly interference penalty away from the play early in the game giving Finland a power play opportunity that it was unable to cash in on.
Not long afterward, Russia was given a power play and Kovalchuk made amends by drilling a one-timer off a pass from Pavel Datsyuk past Finnish goalie Robert Kristan.
Right back in it
Just 1:27 later Finland won a faceoff in the Russian zone and Juhamatti Aalotonen droved hard to the net and slice a shot past Semyon Varlamov to make it 1-1.
Teemu Selanne notched his second goal of the tournament late in the first period to give Finland a 2-1 lead. It was his second goal of the 2014 Games and 22nd of his Olympic career.
Russian defenceman Alexei Yemelin tripped Finn forward Lauri Korpikoski early in the second period and was sent penalized. Not only did Finland respond with a goal, Mikael Granlund’s third of the Olympics, when Korpikoski fell to the ice, his stick whacked Yemelin in the mouth and cut his lip.
A humble Granlund spoke with Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman after the second period.
“It doesn’t matter who scores the goals as long as we play well and win the game,” Granlund said.
With the Russians on the power play in the third period and Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask trying to smother a scoring attempt, Alexander Radulov made a desperate attempt to drive the goalie and the puck into the net. He didn’t score, but his desire to score was noteworthy. Radulov, for all the controversy that has dogged his career, may have been Russia’s best player at the Olympics.
Alexander Ovechkin leads the NHL with 40 goals, but in five Olympic games this year he managed just a goal and an assist. Ovechkin had threatened to leave the Washington Capitals to compete in the Olympics had there not been NHL participation.
The Russians alternated goalies through the Olympic tournament. Semyon Varlamov started Games 1, 3 and 5 while Sergei Bobrovsky played Games 2 and 4. Varlamov was pulled at 6:42 of the second period not long after his team fell behind 3-1.