There are a lot of broken hearts in Russia today.
Despite scoring the first goal against Finland on Wednesday, the Russians couldn't advance to the semifinals, giving up three unanswered goals to the Finns and eventually losing, 3-1. That leaves the Russians out of contention for a medal in the sport where they seemed to most badly want to earn gold.
And it's the third straight time that's the case, as ESPN Stats & Info tweeted:
With their loss today vs Finland, Russia will not medal in Men's Ice Hockey for the 3rd straight Winter Olympics (last medal: 2002 bronze)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 19, 2014
Now, an entire nation is left disappointed. If a picture is worth a thousand words, well, you could write a novel about the country's despair after this loss.
The Finns were paced by goals from Juhamatti Aaltonen, Teemu Selanne and Mikael Granlund, while goalie Tuukka Rask was absolutely brilliant, stopping 37 of the 38 shots Russia sent his way. Of course, his teammates were pretty solid in front of him as well, blocking countless shots themselves and playing air-tight defense throughout.
It was essentially the game plan that Rask outlined before the game, as he spoke to Corey Masisak of NHL.com about how the Finns could overcome a number of injuries and the loss to Canada before the knockout phase began.
"If we can play team defense and we can protect the house, we can still win games," Rask said. "[Sunday] was a good example of that, but it was too bad we couldn't win."
It was Russia that scored first on the power play, however, as Ilya Kovalchuk opened the scoring just under eight minutes into the game with a blast after Pavel Datsyuk found him with a lane to shoot.
It was the type of rocket shot that had NHL fans feeling nostalgic about Kovalchuk, as Ken Campbell of The Hockey News noted:
How can a person possibly shoot the puck better and harder than Ilya Kovalchuk just did. I hope he changes his mind someday.— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) February 19, 2014
But that was the lone highlight for Russia in this contest, as the Finns wrested control of the game by playing a disciplined, hard-working and defensively sound brand of hockey throughout.
Aaltonen tied the game on an absolutely beautiful goal. He grabbed the puck off the faceoff, skated through the Russian defense and slipped the puck under the arm of Russian goalie Semyon Varlamov.
Bruce Arthur of the National Post has more:
Juhamatti Aaltonen undressed Nikita Nikitin to score in a battle of the most Finnish name versus the most Russian name— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 19, 2014
Then the Russians had a bit of bad luck. After the puck skipped over the stick of Slava Voynov in the neutral zone, Granlund raced past him to scoop it up before finding Selanne with a centering feed. The crafty Selanne slipped the puck past Varlamov, giving the Finns a 2-1 lead heading into the second period.
Still, the Russians' effort to get back on defense was a bit disappointing, as Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy tweeted:
Seeing that Selanne goal again, the Russian defense was so outhustled that Granlund and Teemu had a 2-on-0 on Varly's doorstep. Just putrid— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 19, 2014
Things didn't get any better for the Russians in the second. Four-and-a-half minutes into the second frame, Russia's Alexei Emelin was called for tripping, setting up the Finns on the power play. A minute later they scored, as Granlund buried the rebound from a Selanne shot.
The duo formed quite a pair in this game, as TSN on Twitter noted:
Selanne played in the 1992 Olympics - Granlund was born 3 days after the games ended. They've each assisted on the other's goal today. #TSN— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 19, 2014
But it was a well-rounded performance from the Finns. They were better structured and simply appeared to work harder than the Russians. They certainly deserved this win.
Finland's task at these Games doesn't get any easier, however, as they now have to face the knockout round's top overall seed, Sweden. The Swedes have yet to lose and have outscored their opponents 15-5, led by goalie Henrik Lundqvist and forward Daniel Alfredsson, among a slew of other talented NHL stars.
But Finland's impressive win over Russia will give them plenty of confidence against any team they face. As for the Russians, well, failing to even reach the semifinals in this tournament—let alone the podium—will be considered the gravest of disappointments.