Skip to content

Finns bounce host Russians from men’s hockey playoff

Feb 19, 2014, 9:54 AM EDT

sadRussiaAP AP

Just prior to the start of the Olympic tournament, Russia’s Alex Ovechkin said he had a “dream” of winning a gold medal on home soil

On Wednesday, that dream died.

Finland beat Russia 3-1 in front of a partisan Russian crowd at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, stifling the host country for most of the game while setting off a national nightmare in the process.

Russia came into this tournament with huge hopes riding on hockey gold. Ovechkin joked a gold medal would “only cost $50-billion” — well, we think he was joking — and his teammates also acknowledged the pressure to win it all. Yet their tournament will end with a quarterfinal loss, and Finland deserves full credit for ending it.

VIDEO: Watch highlights from the game

Juhamatti Aaltonen, Teemu Selanne and Mikael Granlund all scored for Finland, with the three goals coming unanswered after Ilya Kovalchuk opened the scoring for the Russians midway through the third period. Granlund, 21, has stepped up huge in this tournament after injuries kept veteran forwards Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula from participating — Granlund now has a team-high five points.

If today’s game showed one thing, though, it’s the importance of quality goaltending in a single elimination tournament. Tuukka Rask was absolutely brilliant for the Finns, stopping 37 of 38 shots. Russia, meanwhile, got an uneven start from Semyon Varlamov — chased after allowing three goals — and was forced to insert Sergei Bobrovsky early in the second period.

The Russian goaltending situation will likely come under fire. Head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov went back and forth between Varlamov and Bobrovsky all tournament long; conversely, Finland has started Rask in three of its four games, including the last two against Canada and Russia.

This wasn’t just about goaltending, however. Finland played a smart, efficient game and outworked the Russians on a number of occasions. At no time was that more evident than on Teemu Selanne’s game-winning goal; Minnesota forward Mikael Granlund chased down and stripped Slava Voynov for a loose puck before centering to Selanne, who broke his own record (set five days ago) as the oldest goalscorer in Olympic history.

The Finns will now face Sweden in the semifinal for the chance to advance to Sunday’s gold medal game.

The Russians, meanwhile, will now face a number of questions.

  1. herc883 - Feb 19, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    I’m not surprised at all by this and I doubt it comes as a shock to anybody but the Russian fans.

  2. fordmandalay - Feb 19, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Holy Puck, Batman! I’d hate to be a hockey player who disappointed Putin, not getting him his gold medal. At best he’ll be playing out his career in Siberia.

  3. ermur221 - Feb 19, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    Lol lol lol are they still complaining about their “goal” when the USA kicked ass!!!

  4. wishingtonredslur - Feb 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    How do you spell Gulog? Gewlog?

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Inside Michael Phelps' comeback