On Feb. 22, Six-time Olympian Teemu Selanne capped off his international career with yet another stellar performance; and will leave Sochi with yet another medal for his expansive collection (his record-tying fourth).
"Unbelievable," said Selanne. "It's something that's hard to describe. I played my first national team game 26 years ago, and if somebody would tell me that I'm going to win four Olympic medals, it would be hard to believe. It's overwhelming, for sure."
"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."
After a scoreless first period, the 43-year-old Selanne put a well-placed backhand past U.S. goaltender Jonathan Quick for the games’ first goal in the opening minutes of the second, just after the Fins had returned to even strength.
A mere 12 seconds later, a stunned American team found themselves in a two-goal deficit when Jussi Jokinen capitalized on a ghastly U.S. turnover at their own blueline.
The U.S. would never recover; as the frustrated Americans took penalty after penalty in the third period. The opportunistic Fins were able to make good on two of the advantages, with Selanne picking up his second goal of the contest on a one-timer from the slot, and 19-year-old rookie defenseman Olli Maata also tallied for Finland. Juuso Hietanen essentially capitalized on another, scoring just after time had expired on Patrick Kane penalty.
His two goals in the contest give Selanne 25 for his Olympic career (ranking third all time). He finished the tournament with six points in six games this go around, and 43 points in 37 games total to rank as the all-time leading scorer in Olympic hockey history.
The snake-bitten U.S. (who also lost to Canada Friday in the semifinals) finish the tournament in fourth place, failing to score in their final two contests.
They did have their opportunities however, as Finish goaltender Tuukka Rask (who missed Finland’s semifinals loss to Sweden with an illness) cast aside all 27 U.S. shots for the shutout.
Kane, the Conn Smyth trophy winner for the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, had an unprecedented two penalty shots in the game. Unfortunately for the Americans, he continued his goalless drought in infuriating fashion; watching the first roll of the end of his stick on a failed backhand, and hearing the dreaded sound of iron, as his second clanged off the post.
After winning Silver in Vancouver four years ago, the U.S. leave Sochi without a medal, failing to live up to their own lofty expectations.
"We came to the tournament for gold, but we've got to get to grips with the reality that we had a chance for a bronze medal for our country and we should have laid it all on the line," said U.S. center David Backes. "I'm not sure that's what happened."
With the Bronze, Finland in four out of the five Olympics since they began allowing professional players in 1998 (one silver, three bronze).
Selanne is now the oldest medalist in Olympic hockey history, as well as the oldest goal scorer. He won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks, a team he still plays for. He has 20 points in 47 games for the Ducks this season, who currently have the NHL’s best record.