USA Hockey isn’t finished in Sochi, but the Yanks’ hope for an Olympic gold medal were shattered Friday in a 1-0 loss to Canada.
Jamie Benn’s second-period goal, a tip of Jay Bouwmeester’s pass through the slot, was the only strike of the game. The Americans played well, made few mistakes, but came up woefully short of generating scoring chances. They rarely put a quality shot on Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price, and their follow-up chances were near-nonexistent.
Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel, who entered the game with a tournament-high five goals, was as futile with the puck as the rest of his fellow Americans. The Yanks needed someone to make a statement with the puck, but no one had the voice. The core of the Canadian defensive game — especially in the likes of Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty — proved impenetrable.
The Yanks return to action Saturday when they will face Finland for the bronze medal. The Finns lost earlier in the day, 2-1, to Sweden.
Friday’s outcomes guarantee that Bruins Patrice Bergeron (Canada) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden) each will return with a medal. One will wear gold, the other silver. Bergeron was part of the gold-medal Canadian club in Vancouver 2010.
Turns out, only one goal separated both the US and Canadian men and women. On Thursday, Canada’s women rubbed out the US, 3-2, in overtime to win the gold. Now the men have suffered the same one-goal ouster.
However, the US women turned in a much better overall effort, able to control the championship game for some 56 minutes. Fatigue and poor defensive play led the women to hand over the game.
The men, on the other hand, never had the upper hand on their Canadian NHL brethren. Shift after shift, minute after minute, the Canadians carried the play and held an obvious territorial edge. That doesn’t always add up to victory in hockey, but it did on Friday, the Canadians seemingly to build their victory brick by brick.
Thumbs up: Benn for his deft tip of Bouwmeester’s well-placed pass.
Thumbs down: America’s lack of push, especially in the attack zone, over the entire 60 minutes.
Thumbs up: Both Price and US goaltender Jamie Quick were excellent. Quick had no chance on the Benn tip.
Thumbs down: US coach Dan Bylsma for not shaking up his lines in hopes of getting better looks.
Thumbs up: Canada, despite criticism throughout the tourney, kept to its smart tactics, didn’t waver, and won.
Thumbs down: Canada, for leaving talented Martin St. Louis on the bench. Ouch.
Thumbs up: Bergeron. Is he ever out of position, ever make the wrong play?
Thumbs down: US power play. Hard to score when the puck forever is only 8 feet from the wall.
Thumbs up: NBC. Doc Emrick, Ed Olczyk et al helped make it the fastest 2:03 in hockey.
Thumbs down: Canada’s Ryan Getzlaf telling NBC when it was over, “We enjoy ourselves out there — and obviously, we enjoy winning.’’ Yeah. We get it.Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.