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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Medal or Goals for Russians

ReutersJagr, left, shaking hands with Nabokov after the game Saturday evening.
TURIN, Italy -- Russia left the Olympics with no goals in two straight games, and no medals for only the second time in 50 years.

The Russians were the quickest, highest scoring team in men's Olympic hockey through the sixth game, a historic 2-0 victory over Canada in the quarterfinals. That made them favorites going into the final four.

Then the goals vanished.

The Czech Republic shut out Russia 3-0 in Saturday's bronze medal game, in a marquee matchup that easily could have been for Olympic gold.

"We had good vibrations before the start of the game," Russian coach Vladimir Krikunov said.

Martin Erat changed that, scoring at 4:48 of the first period on a wrist shot that sailed over the left shoulder of Russian goalie Yevgeny Nabokov.

Marek Zidlicky added a power-play goal at 6:36 of the second. The Russians had seven power plays, and didn't convert any.

The Czechs clogged up the middle, blocked the red line and turned the Russians from team players into individuals trying to do it alone. The only place they won the battle was in the corners, giving them a 28-15 shooting edge over the Czechs -- and 12-2 in the final period.

"I just really think that teams figured us out," Nabokov said. "Tactic-wise, those teams outplayed us totally. They picked us apart, and they put us in a situation where we had to play individual hockey."

Even with a roster filled with NHL offensive superstars, Russia -- which scored a preliminary-round high 23 goals -- found more disappointment in a tournament it is used to dominating.

The bronze medalists from four years ago in Salt Lake City, the Russians took home gold six times in seven tries but are now dealing with a four-Games losing streak. They didn't win a medal in the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

Russia, which lost 4-0 on Friday after winning five straight, had its offense bolstered by the return of teenager Yevgeny Malkin, who sat out against Finland as punishment for an infraction against Canada in the quarters.

But the Russians lost Ilya Kovalchuk -- their second-leading goal scorer -- after he was ejected for an elbow that bloodied Czech defenseman Pavel Kubina's face and knocked him from the game. Kubina was assisted from the ice and expected to see a doctor on Sunday. He said afterward that he felt tired but was still well enough to walk out to get his medal.

To add to the Russians' frustration, Pavel Datsyuk finally put the puck behind Czech goalie Tomas Vokoun at 16:07 of the final period, but Swedish referee Thomas Andersson ruled it was scored with a high stick. Datsyuk shouted at Andersson, and got a misconduct penalty for arguing the call.

"I don't know what happened," said defenseman Danny Markov, who plays with Vokoun for the Nashville Predators. "Vokoun is a great goalie, but Martin Brodeur [of Canada] is a great a goaltender too, and we scored two against him."

Marek Zidlicky made Russia pay during the 5-minute power play when he ripped a shot from the blue line off a pass from the NHL's leading scorer, Jaromir Jagr, at 6:36. His New York Rangers teammate Martin Straka sealed it with 8 seconds left with an empty-net goal on the Czech's 15th and final shot.

"We just ran out of energy," Russian captain Alexei Kovalyov said. "When you take so many penalties, it's going to cost you eventually."

After the final horn, Vokoun's teammates skated to him and exchanged head bumps in the crease -- an area the Russians couldn't penetrate.

The loss left Russia without an Olympic medal for only the second time in 50 years. Since first playing in 1956, Russia has won men's hockey medals in 12 of 14 tournaments -- that includes eight gold, but none since 1992.

"It's disappointing. Especially after beating Canada, we had high expectations," said defenseman Darius Kasparaitis, who has three Olympic medals and was hoping to make it four and match Russia's great goaltender Vladislav Tretyak.

"You just can't win games without scoring."