Finland captain Teemu Selanne had the floor in the dressing room before the 2014 Sochi Olympics hockey tournament bronze-medal game Saturday. As he does each time he speaks, he demanded the attention of his teammates.
This was it for the 43-year-old Selanne, his last game for Finland's national team, nearly 26 years after he first put on the Suomi sweater. Finland lost its chance to win gold Friday in a one-goal defeat to Sweden. But the game Saturday was for a medal, and it was against the United States. Selanne wanted to make sure everyone in the dressing room knew how much it mattered to him, how much it should matter to them.
"He was saying for the younger guys this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win the medal because there are no guarantees who is going to be here in four years and you don't want to throw these chances away," forward Olli Jokinen said. "There are not many hockey players who are going to be able to say they have an Olympic medal in their office. It was a message for all of us."
Message received. Bronze medal earned.
Selanne put some heft behind his pep talk, scoring two goals to help carry Finland to a 5-0 win against the United States at Bolshoy Ice Dome. The goals were his third and fourth of the tournament. He has 24 career goals in an Olympic run that began in Albertville in 1992.
Selanne, who has already announced that this will be his last season in the NHL and his last Olympics, finishes his Olympic career with four medals in six tournaments. He helped Finland get the silver medal in 2006 and the bronze medal in 1998, 2010 and now 2014. He also played in the Olympics in 1992 and 2002.
Finland has now won a medal in four of the five Olympics which have included NHL players and in five of the past six. Its haul includes one silver medal and four bronze medals.
"If you would write the story about this, there couldn't be a better ending," Selanne said. "Maybe winning the gold medal, but that was not reality. This is great, a happy ending."
Not so for the United States.
The Americans couldn't cash in on an opportunity to medal in back-to-back Olympics for the first time since 1956 and 1960. They took home the silver four years ago in Vancouver after an overtime loss to Canada – following a 6-1 win against Finland in the semifinals – but were shut out in their final two games here after scoring 19 goals in their first four.
Canada beat them 1-0 in the semifinals Friday.
Patrick Kane missed on two penalty shots Saturday and Finland goalie Tuukka Rask made 27 saves to keep the Americans off the board.
"The way we played the last two games we didn't deserve it [a medal]," U.S. captain Zach Parise said. "We got out-played. We didn't deserve to win either of them. Coming into the final round I thought we were playing well. I'm kind of embarrassed where we're at now."
The Finns had a 2-0 lead going into the third period on goals from Selanne and Jussi Jokinen early in the second, but they opened it up with three goals in a span of less than seven minutes in the third period.
Juuso Hietanen scored at 6:10, as Finland's power play expired, to make it 3-0. Selanne scored his second of the game less than three minutes later and Olli Maatta cashed in with a power-play goal with 6:51 to play.
Jonathan Quick, who made 36 saves in the loss to Canada on Friday, had 24 saves Saturday.
U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said it was difficult for his team to bounce back after the loss to Canada less than 24 hours before the bronze-medal game.
"We didn't show up," U.S. forward Max Pacioretty said. "We let our country down; that's it."
The Finns had no problems bouncing back from their 2-1 loss to Sweden in the semifinals. All they did was play their tough team game, the same brand of hockey they have been playing for years. It paid off with back-to-back goals 11 seconds apart in the second period.
The U.S.'s top defense pairing of Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh was on the ice for both goals.
Selanne scored 1:27 into the period thanks, in part, to a strong play in the neutral zone from Mikael Granlund, who beat James van Riemsdyk to the puck and was able to swipe a backhanded pass to Selanne. The Finnish captain did the rest with a hard, low shot on the backhand which snuck inside the left post.
Jussi Jokinen scored 11 seconds later on what was really a broken defensive play by the Americans.
Jori Lehtera was able to pass the puck around McDonagh from the left circle, but Suter was caught in no-man's land, too far away to pick off the pass yet unable to defend Jokinen once the puck came to him. Quick was also high out of the crease near the left circle, so he wasn't able to get back across to stop Jokinen's one-timer.
"That was a great pass from Jori," Jokinen said. "Those are the passes I'm used to getting from Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh. That's what I told him after the goal, too. I'm used to putting those in the net."
Kane had two penalty-shot attempts within the first 27 minutes of the game, but his backhand went a few inches wide to the right of Rask's pad in the first period and he rifled a shot off the right post in the second period.
"I wasn't good enough to help the team win a medal," Kane said. "Obviously, I was expected to do a lot more. When you come over here and put up zero goals and four assists in six games, it's not the numbers you want to see. Definitely disappointing."
0 2 3 - 5
0 0 0 - 0
No scoring this period
Penalties – Selanne FIN (tripping) 3:53, Pacioretty USA (high sticking) 8:26, Timonen (PS-throw object at puck) 13:40, Salminen (tripping) 18:51
1. FIN, Selanne - (Granlund, Korpikoski) 1:27
2. FIN, Jokinen - (Jokinen) 1:38
Penalties - Komarov FIN (tripping) 6:24, Backes USA (tripping) 11:31
3. FIN, Hietanen (Ruutu, Lepisto) 1:28
4. FIN, Selanne - PP (Granlund, Korpikoski) 9:06
5. FIN, Maatta - PP (Lehtera) 13:09
Penalties - Kane USA (tripping) 4:10, Oshie USA (interference) 8:17, Suter (high sticking) 12:28, Kane (slashing) 15:56
SHOTS ON GOAL
8 12 9 - 29
12 10 5 - 27
(saves-shots against) - USA: Quick (L, 24-29); FIN: Rask (W, 27-27)