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Kane, U.S. hockey drop bronze game to Finland

SOCHI RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22:  Patrick Kane #88 United States hits post penalty shot against TuukkRask #40 Finlsecond period

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: Patrick Kane #88 of the United States hits the post on a penalty shot against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland in the second period during the Men's Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game on Day 15 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 461427077 ORG XMIT: CST1402221019384818

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Updated: February 24, 2014 10:20PM

SOCHI, Russia — After the missed breakaway in overtime against Russia, and the lost handle on his first penalty shot on Saturday, this was no-nonsense Patrick Kane. No dekes, no fancy footwork, no deception. Given a second penalty shot in the second period, Kane walked in on Finland goaltender Tuukka Rask and simply fired. Beat him, too.

But the shot hit the top of the right post, the rebound fluttering high through the air and landing, remarkably, right in Kane’s glove. He swatted the insolent puck away and trudged back to the bench as a clever organist played “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

It was that kind of Olympics for Kane, who — despite being one of the few American players who looked interested in playing — pointed a finger at himself following the United States’ dismal 5-0 loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game.

“No excuses,” said Kane, who didn’t score in six games. “I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough to help the team win a medal. Obviously, I was expected to do a lot more. When you come over here and put zero goals and four assists in six games, that’s not the numbers you want to see. Definitely disappointing.”

It was the second straight game in which the Americans — the highest-scoring team in the tournament — were shut out. Friday’s 1-0 loss to Canada in the semifinals sucked the life out of them, and captain Zach Parise chided the team for being “passive” in the always tough-to-get-up-for consolation game. Parise called the performance “a little embarrassing.”

Finland had no such problems. Teemu Selanne, playing in his sixth and (allegedly) final Olympics, went out in style with his fourth medal. He spoke to the team before the game about how it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win a medal, then went out and scored two goals.

While Selanne celebrated and talked through tears of joy, Kane tried to turn his attention forward to his return to Chicago. The Blackhawks reopen the season Thursday night in New York against the Rangers.

“Get back to the States, forget about what happened here in Russia,” Kane said. “It was a great experience and something you’ll never forget, obviously. It would have been nice to bring something home. But the experience in general will make me a better player, and hopefully stronger as my career goes on. As far as the tournament for me, just disappointing, I guess.”

Frustrating, too. As the game got out of hand — Kane felt the Americans “dominated” the first two periods, but still found themselves down 2-0 before the wheels fell off in the third — he took two penalties, including an uncharacteristic slash. With Ryan Kesler and Ryan McDonagh jumping in front of shots, Kevin Shattenkirk shooting at will, and Ryan Suter playing 22 minutes, Kane wasn’t the only American player who clearly wanted to win a bronze medal. But he was one of far too few.

“It’s an opportunity lost, quite honestly,” said Dustin Brown, who was benched by coach Dan Bylsma after playing less than five minutes. “There’s not too many times you get an opportunity to play in the Olympics. It’s not how we wanted it to go.”

Kane looked like a beaten man following Friday’s loss to Canada, his eyes sullen and his head heavy. Less than three weeks ago, his grandfather and best friend, Donald Kane, died. He flew home to Buffalo for the funeral, then flew to Sochi facing enormous expectations on the world stage — after all, he’s a two-time Stanley Cup winner, scoring the Cup-winner in 2010 and earning playoff MVP honors in 2013.

And as the face of Team USA, he was pulled in myriad directions, for interviews and TV spots and the like. He looked and sounded more tired than usual for much of the week, though he was more upbeat — albeit disappointed — following Saturday’s game.

But if he was feeling the fatigue of a difficult few weeks, you wouldn’t know it by his play on the ice. Despite the zero in the goal column, he was one of Team USA’s most visible and active players beyond the James van Riemsdyk, Joe Pavleski, Phil Kessel line (which disappeared itself in the semifinals and bronze-medal game). Kane finished the tournament with 19 shots in six games, second only to Kessel’s 21. His brilliant pass to Pavelski helped the U.S. beat the Russians in pool play. He wasn’t at his best in Sochi, but he was far from invisible.

He just couldn’t find the back of the net.

And that’s what’ll stay with him.

“I feel fine,” he said. “Physically fine, mentally fine. Yeah, it’s been a tough couple weeks, but at the same time, no excuses. I was here to play hockey and try to produce, didn’t do that, that’s what I’m expected to do in Chicago, too so I’ll go back and try to do it there.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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