Finland played for a medal. Team USA played because it had to.
"Very disappointed in the way the game shook out," said U.S. captain Zach Parise. "With a medal on the line and you get blown out 5-0, that's unacceptable at this point in the tournament."
Patrick Kane unwittingly became the face of American futility.
The Chicago Blackhawks superstar misfired on not one but two penalty shots and finished the Olympics without a single goal. Worse he was in the penalty box serving one of his two third-period penalties when Finland scored its third goal early in the third period to take command.
In his 37th and final Olympic game Teemu Selanne, the 43-year-old icon of the Anaheim Ducks, scored the first of his two goals early in the second period, beating Jonathan Quick with a short-side backhander.
Eleven seconds later Jussi Jokinen potted another off a U.S. turnover, and the rout was on.
"A little embarrassing," Parise added.
U.S. coach Dan Bylsma conceded Canada's suffocating 1-0 defeat in Friday's semifinals gutted his team, which showed some life in the first period but quickly unraveled after falling behind 2-0.
"For our team, the game of last night against the Canadians is the game I think we wanted and got it in the semifinal. Losing that game, it took a lot out of us," Bylsma said.
"We weren't able to get back and respond. We had opportunities. We had chances in the first period that would have put us up in this game. But we didn't get and they played fantastic."
Team USA's downfall was precipitous as it was unexpected.
Selfless play and balanced scoring were the envy of the tournament during three preliminary victories, including an emotional 3-2 shootout takedown of host Russia, and a convincing quarterfinal win over the Czechs.
But Canada dominated the United States, playing keeping away with the puck and imposing its will in a final score that did not match the disparity.
Team USA's gold medal hopes were dashed, and a bronze medal offered no consolation judging by the undisciplined and uncharacteristic lay down against the Finns.
"If we're honest about this, the past two games, we had better performances in the tank," said center David Backes.
"The result if we played out butts off and were ousted by better teams against us you can live with that. But when it's less than stellar performances when it's one and done and you're playing for your country, there really shouldn't be anything hang back. It's a sour, sour taste."
How bad was it? The Americans spent more time killing penalties in the third period than it did in the offensive zone.
Team USA, which won gold in 1960 and 1980, has three silver medals to its credit (2010, 2002, 1972) and one bronze (1936). It failed to win a medal for the second time in five Olympics involving NHL players (1998, 2006).
Finland exacted revenge from Team USA's 6-1 thrashing in the 2010 semifinals in Vancouver and, to an older generation, its 1980 gold medal loss to the Miracle Americans at Lake Placid, N.Y.
"It means a lot. It was a great tournament," said forward Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild, bronze medal dangling from his sweaty neck.
Granlund drew two assists and finished as Finland's leading scorer with three goals among seven points.
"We played great hockey pretty much the whole tournament. I'm really happy right now."
Selanne is the oldest hockey player in the tournament, a seven-time Olympian whose 43 points are the most by any player.
"I have been carrying this jersey with a lot of love and pride and winning this last game like this was a dream come true," Selanne said. "Stanley Cup is the next goal for me. Playing my last NHL season (and winning it) would be a dream come true for me again."
Perhaps delivering another Stanley Cup to southern California would mitigate this American nightmare.