The dream of winning gold in their homeland is over for the Russian hockey team.
After defeating Norway on Tuesday to move into quarterfinals, the host nation for this year’s Olympics fell short against Finland Wednesday; ending their tournament with a 3-1 loss. Russia has now failed to medal in three straight Olympic games.
The Russian team got on the board first, with a wicked one-timer from Ilya Kovalchuk finding its’ way past Finnish goaltender Tuukka Rask on the powerplay. Yet with the weight of their country’s lofty expectations on their shoulders (and Finland’s stout defensive system in front of them); that was all the offense they could muster.
The 43-year-old Teemu Selanne proved yet again that age is but a number; leading the way offensively for Finland with a goal and an assist. In his sixth Olympic games, the Finnish captain has four points in four games; and is the Olympics all-time leading scorer with 41 points in 35 contests.
Mikael Granlund added a powerplay goal in the second period, burying a rebound off of a Selanne shot; and ending Varlamov’s night. The 21-year-old Granlund, who also assisted on Selanne’s goal, was not even born when Selanne participated in his first Olympics in 1992.
Finland clamped down the defense in the third period, forcing the Russian forwards to the outside and limiting their quality chances. Russia managed 38 shots, but aside from the one tally, could not solve Rask.
Stars Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin again failed to produce offensively. Neither has scored since the opening minutes of their first preliminary round game; something that ultimately contributed to their early exit in the tournament.
"It’s difficult to explain why we didn’t score especially the players who usually score on their teams like Alexander OvRadulovechkin who scored over 40 goals. I cannot explain it", said Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. "I apologize to the fans for our result. It was an unfortunate game for us.”
In a rematch of the 2006 finals, Finland will now play rival Sweden in the semifinals on Friday.