United States, Finland Battle for Bronze
UNITED STATES vs. FINLAND
When: Saturday, 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN, CBC)
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome
What's at stake: The United States and Finland have the opportunity to make the long trip to Sochi a bit more memorable by taking home some hardware. A win by the U.S. would be the men's team's first Olympic hockey medal won outside North America since capturing silver at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics.
"We want to come home with a bronze medal," U.S. coach Dan Bylsma said. "After we put [the semifinal] loss behind us we'll be back to do that."
The Finns haven't won Olympic gold since the NHL began sending players in 1998, but they have won some kind of medal three times in the past four Olympics.
"I have a nice trophy case at home," Finland captain Teemu Selanne said. "Three medals from Olympics. It would be nice to have four."
United States: The highest scoring team in the preliminary round couldn't find its offense when it needed it most in a 1-0 semifinals loss to Canada on Friday.
Despite putting 31 shots on goal, the Americans had few legitimate scoring chances and rarely had bodies around the Canada net.
"It seems like we had a tough time sustaining any pressure in their end," American forward Ryan Callahan said after the game. "They outnumbered us in their zone. We wanted to get pucks behind their [defense], create some opportunities that way. Thought we did it early, but they defended well."
Finland: The difference between playing for gold and playing for bronze for Finland was special teams. The Finns failed to take advantage of five power plays in the semifinal against Sweden, including a 95-second 5-on-3 advantage in the first period.
"I think the turning point is we got the first goal and had a power play right after it," forward Olli Jokinen said Friday. "We had a pretty good chance to score. That's the time you want to put the team away and get a two-goal lead."
Then the Finland penalty kill let down for a split second when Jarkko Immonen, assigned to shadow Sweden's Erik Karlsson, turned his head to follow the puck. That split-second lapse allowed Karlsson to find space, take a pass from Alexander Steen and blast a shot past goalie Kari Lehtonen for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
What's next: The winning team will get its medal Sunday after Canada and Sweden play for the gold medal. The players and coaches from the losing team will immediately return to their NHL or club teams.