WATCH: Russian fans react harshly to quarterfinal loss to Finland
It’s do or die time in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament. But for the host team, it was too little too late.
Finland and Russia faced off in their first elimination game at the Sochi Winter Olympics on Wednesday.
Going into the third period with a two-goal deficit, Russia turned it on, but were unable to beat Tuukka Rask in net. Rask made 37 saves for the win.
Finland won the game, crushing any Russian hopes of a gold medal game in front of a home crowd. Finland will now face Sweden in the semifinals on Friday, who are the number one seed in the tournament.
Alex Ovechkin was essentially speechless after the game. He had struggled to reach the scoreboard throughout the Olympic tournament.
Russia got the first goal of the game nearly eight minutes into the first period. Ilya Kovalchuk put one past Finland’s goalie Rask. Pavel Datsyuk picked up the assist.
Finland answered back just over a minute later, with Juhamatti Aaltonen scoring, Petri Kontiola assisting.
Veteran forward Teemu Selanne scored with two and a half minutes left in the first period. Mikael Granlund picked up the assist.
Finland was the first to the scoreboard in the second period, with Granlund netting his second goal of the game. Selanne and Kimmo Timonen got the assists.
Russia pulled their goalie Semyon Varlamov shorly after Granlund’s goal, putting in Sergei Bobrovski.
Finland was leading Russia 3-1 in the second period.
Russia picked up their play, outshooting Finland 14-5 in the third period, but were unable to beat Rask.
Russia dominated play for much of the period and Bobrovski made sprawling saves in the third to keep his team in it.
Russia pulled Bobrovski for the extra attacker with one minute left to go in the game.
But it was too late for the host team. Finland won the game 3-1, and will go on to play Sweden in the semifinals on Friday.
Rask stopped 37 of 38 shots.
Leading up to the quarter-finals
Following the preliminary round, and a dramatic loss to the U.S. on Saturday, Russia was forced to win four games in six days in order to win Russia’s first gold medal in men’s hockey in 22 years.
Russia beat Norway 4-0 in a qualifying game on Tuesday, advancing them to the quarter-finals against a strong Finnish team.
“It is do-or-die games right now,” said Ovechkin ahead of Wednesday’s game. “We don’t have much time to prepare … but I’m pretty sure everybody on Finland is going to be ready, and we’re going to be ready as well.”
Finland had yesterday off to prepare for the elimination game. And while having an extra game to improve as a team can sometimes be an advantage, the Russians have a hard road ahead of them.
“It’s tough because the Russians have to face Finland, and they’re a tough out,” said Ryan Kennedy associated senior writer for The Hockey News.
“The Russians actually have a pretty tough road ahead. They’ll obviously be in fighting form because they had that extra game, but I would say they have the hardest road to get to gold,” said Kennedy.