GANGNEUNG, South Korea — This time it was Troy Terry instead of T.J. Oshie and Ryan Zapolski instead of Jonathan Quick.
In this Olympic shootout, though, the United States fell short.
Playing in an elimination game without NHL stars, the U.S. men were ousted from the Olympics with a 3-2 loss to the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Little-known Czech goaltender Pavel Francouz did his best impression of legendary countryman Dominik Hasek by stopping Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Terry and Bobby Butler in the shootout, sending the Czechs on to Friday’s semifinals — and sending the U.S. home.
“It’s tough,” Donato said. “It always comes down to the smallest plays and I think at the end of the day you’ve got to be able to capitalize on those plays to win a game.”
Petr Koukal scored the winner, the only player to score on U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski in the shootout.
“It’s tough to kind of go that way I think to end an Olympic tournament,” said Zapolski, who made 27 saves on 29 shots in regulation and overtime. “For it to end in a shootout, it’s difficult.”
Jan Kovar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation for the Czech Republic, which was fresher after winning its group and getting a bye into the quarterfinals and got 18 saves in regulation and overtime from Francouz. The U.S. looked fatigued after facing Slovakia in the qualification round a day earlier and was outshot 29-20.
Donato and Jim Slater scored in regulation for the U.S, which again was led by its youngest players, including Terry.
Just before the shootout, Oshie — who converted four of six shots in a legendary shootout win over Russia four years ago in Sochi — tweeted his support for Terry, but Francouz was able to save a multiple-fake try by the University of Denver player.
“Sorry to let him down on that on,” Terry said, adding that Francouz’s use of the glove on his right hand — uncommon in hockey — didn’t let him use his usual move. “But the goalie made a good save.”
In regulation, Terry skated around opponents as he had done all tournament, and 6:20 in helped give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Terry sliced down the left wing and dished the puck to Donato, who used a double Czech Republic screen to beat Francouz.
The goal was Donato’s fifth in five games, passing his father and Harvard coach, Ted, who scored four for the U.S. at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville.
The Czechs tied the game 1-1 at 15:12 after 39-year-old U.S. captain Brian Gionta lost the faceoff clean. Jan Kolar got it back to Kovar, who beat Zapolski from long range with a screen — the kind of goal that has been common at this tournament.
A parade to the penalty box by the U.S. beginning with a boarding call on John McCarthy at the end of the first period made the opening half of the second period a one-sided affair. Kundratek scored at 8:14 to put the Czechs up 2-1.
Just over two minutes later, with the U.S. on another penalty kill, Brian O’Neill found Slater on the rush and Slater scored his first goal of the tournament. The short-handed tying goal at 10:23 was the Americans’ first shot of the second period.
The teams traded chances in the third period and O’Neill clanked a shot off the crossbar with just under three minutes remaining on an odd-man rush. The U.S. got a power play at the end of regulation and into overtime but never got a shot on net.
With 35 seconds remaining in overtime, U.S. defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti’s shot hit Francouz and sat in the crease, but the goalie was able to cover up.
“We couldn’t get the bounces,” Donato said.
The Czechs move on to face Russia in the semifinals.