Two countries hoping to redeem their crushing one-goal losses in the semi-finals, the United States and Finland meet in the men’s hockey bronze medal game on Saturday night in Sochi, Russia.
Unable to generate any sort of attack and failing to capitalize on a terrific game from goalkeeper Jonathan Quick in the 1-0 loss to Canada, Team USA and head coach Dan Bylsma look to medal for the third time in the last four Olympic appearances.
Quick made 36 saves off 37 shots on goal, and suffered his first loss in these Olympics. Team captain Zach Parise led all players with eight shots on goal, followed by forward Phil Kessel’s four shots. Kessel still leads all players in the tournament with eight total points, and is tied for first with five goals.
Team USA’s offense appeared unstoppable in group play and the quarterfinals until it faced Canada’s relentless attack and goalkeeper Carey Price. Their only loss of the tournament, it was the first game the U.S. failed to score a goal, and it wasn’t for lack of opportunities with Price turning away all 31 shots on goal.
Missing top keeper Tuukka Rask to illness, Finland fell to Sweden 2-1 in the other semifinal matchup, and seeks it second consecutive bronze medal following the Vancouver Games in 2010.
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The Finns especially struggled to take advantage of three early power plays in the first period, and gave up a one goal lead halfway through the second before Sweden pulled away.
Olli Jokinen netted the Finns only goal in the second period off an assist from Sami Vatanen. The 22-year-old Vatanen, who was drafted by Anaheim Ducks in 2009, is the top assist man in Sochi with five.
Should the U.S. prevail, it will be the country’s first bronze medal in men’s hockey since the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Games.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Time: Saturday, 10 a.m. EST
Online Stream Info: A live online stream can be viewed at NBC Live Extra here.
Prediction: USA 2-1