The United States men's hockey team tied a record for the worst shutout loss in U.S. Olympic hockey history Saturday, falling to Team Finland by a score of 5-0 in the bronze-medal game. One day removed from a crushing loss to Canada that wasn't as close as the 1-0 score indicates, Team USA showed up and did nothing more.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick, who single-handedly kept the U.S. in Friday's game, was beaten five times in the second and third periods following a scoreless first frame. Fatigue was likely an issue for the Los Angeles Kings netminder as he started his third game in four days.
While Quick's performance may have been excusable under the circumstances, the same can't be said for the rest of Team USA. A roster full of NHL All-Stars was shutout for a second consecutive game, marking the first time in Olympic history that the U.S. men have been held scoreless in back-to-back games.
Surprisingly, Friday's shutout loss to Canada was Team USA's first goal-less performance at the Olympics since 1976, when the team lost 5-0 to Czechoslovakia in Innsbruck, Austria.
Of course, the previous 5-0 loss came when NHL players didn't participate in the Olympics, during an era of international hockey that was dominated by the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. Saturday's loss came in a game where the USA was favored, with a roster featuring the likes of Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Patrick Kane.
To be fair, the Finns—led by Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and 43-year-old Ducks winger Teemu Selanne—are no pushover, boasting a roster full of NHL talent despite the country's relatively small population of approximately 5.5 million. In the five Winter Olympics since NHL players began participating, the Finnish team has a silver medal and three bronzes. They've yet to capture that elusive gold but always seem to slightly outperform expectations.
On paper, the Finns were probably only the fourth- or fifth-best team in Sochi. Sunday's gold-medal game between Sweden and Canada will feature arguably the two best rosters in the tournament, though both sides will be without some key players, namely Canada's John Tavares and Sweden's Henrik Zetterberg.
The U.S. actually fared well from a health perspective, but that didn't stop the team from turning in a performance that captain Parise and assistant captain Suter, both of the Minnesota Wild, referred to as embarrassing.
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