Finn-ished! Russia's Olympic hockey dream crushed by Finland

Russia's Alexander Radulov checks Finland's Lasse Kukkonen during their men's quarterfinal hockey...

Russia's Alexander Radulov checks Finland's Lasse Kukkonen during their men's quarterfinal hockey game at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 19, 2014. (GRIGORY DUKOR/Reuters)

QMI Agnecy

, Last Updated: 10:52 AM ET

Strongman Russian president Vladimir Putin is surely not amused.

The Russian men's hockey team, a centrepiece of his $51-billion Sochi Games, fell 3-1 to an injury-riddled Finland Wednesday, eliminating the underachieving host team from medal contention.

Alex Ovechkin, the team's top star, finished the crucial game with no points. He has failed to score in all but one of the Sochi games for Russia, whose loss to Finland may be the most painful hockey defeat in national history.

Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins has clearly shaken off poor play early in the tournament. He made 36 saves in the win, which sends Finland to Friday's semifinals (both games at 7 a.m. Eastern).

Semyon Varlamov started for Russia but was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots. Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets replaced him, making seven saves.

Finland's goals were scored by Juhamatti Aaltonen, Teemu Selanne and Mikael Granlund. Ilya Kovalchuk opened the game's scoring but his Russian team never struck again.

There's no overstating the pressure the host Russian team faced in Sochi. After decades of international hockey supremacy, it's now been two decades since the country has won Olympic hockey gold. Their showing at the Vancouver Games was marred by an embarrassing 7-3 loss to Canada, the eventual gold medallists.

For many citizens, the overall success of the Sochi Games would rise and fall with the fortunes of Ovechkin & Co. After Wednesday's fatal loss, they surely can't get any lower.

Immediately after the final buzzer, a stunned Ovechkin struggled in a television interview to explain the loss.

"It's tough ... I don't know what to say," he said.

Added the Washington Capitals star: "It sucks, what can I say? No emotions right now."

Bobrovsky, who stopped every shot he faced in relief of Varlamov, sounded a note of dejection post-game.

"I just feel empty, disappointed and empty inside. To be honest, I didn't (expect this outcome). I didn't think about it. It's hard to say whether this is a maximal or minimal failure. Failure is failure. How can you measure it?"


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