Lokomotiv defenseman Staffan Kronwall and forward Max Talbot spoke to KHL.ru in the wake of the Yaroslavl men’s second defeat at the hands of SKA in the Western Conference finals.
The first two encounters in the Western Conference final between SKA Saint Petersburg and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl took place in Russia’s Northern Capital, and both games went the way of the hosts. In Game 1, the Railwaymen were leading 4-2 with five minutes left on the clock, before a dramatic come-back saw the Petersburg men level the score in the dying seconds and clinch a dramatic 5-4 win in overtime.
The second meeting finished with a more convincing 4-1 scoreline, with former Lokomotiv front man Sergei Plotnikov and his partner Nikolai Prokhorkin each recording three points.
Lokomotiv D-man Staffan Kronwall remarked that he and his Yaroslavl comrades are in fine physical shape, and will look to their passionate supporters for help in Game 3 tonight.
- Was the second game harder than the first?
Staffan Kronwall: “I think we played even better that in the second game, we were the better team today. It is just too bad that we allowed them to take a 2-1 lead late in the second period. That was a crucial moment in the match.”
- How do you feel physically? Were you tiring in the second period?
Staffan Kronwall: “Tired? No, I’m not, all the team feels great. There is no fatigue. We scored first, SKA pulled level, and then our mistakes cost us. We need to make fewer errors.”
- So SKA’s second goal was the key moment?
Staffan Kronwall: “It had a huge influence on the outcome, but it is a 60-minute game. We needed to perform better in the third period. Denis Mosalyov had a great chance in the first period to make the score 2:0, and then it would have been a very different game, but Mikko Koskinen made a miraculous save.
“It was probably tougher for the SKA players. The crowd expect them to deliver, so in some ways it was easier for us. The fans created a great atmosphere at the match. It is a pleasure to be in the playoffs, and we could feel the passion from the supporters”
- Why was Lokomotiv’s powerplay not as strong as usual?
Staffan Kronwall: “We created scoring chances, especially in the first and second periods, but we didn't take them. We still played well with the extra man, but something was lacking a little bit. You have to be more ruthless but again, we are making chances.”
- Did the SKA fans exert extra pressure on you?
Staffan Kronwall: “I think there is always pressure on the road, but it was probably tougher for the SKA players. The crowd demand that they win, so in some ways it was easier for us. The fans created a great atmosphere at the match. It is a pleasure to be in the playoffs, and we could feel the passion from the supporters.”
- What must Lokomotiv do to rescue this series?
Staffan Kronwall: “We have to win the next game. It is vital for Lokomotiv. We need to concentrate on every match, and win game after game. I already said we played better in the second game than in the first, but sadly, the scoreboard shows we are 0-2 in the series. But for Game 3 we’ll be on home ice, before our own fans, and SKA will feel how we felt in Petersburg. We know what we have to do to beat them.”
Lokomotiv forward Maxim Talbot agreed that Plotnikov’s solo run and strike was the key point of the second match, and said the Yaroslavl coaches had told the players to focus on discipline.
- Have you had an inquest on why Lokomotiv allowed so many goals in the first two matches of the series?
Maxime Talbot: "It just happens that we lost both games. Game 1 was settled by a single goal, and in overtime. In the second match, things didn't work out as we wanted, although we played some good hockey, especially in the first two periods. SKA’s second goal was the killer.”
- That was the key to the result?
Maxime Talbot: "Yes and no. On the one hand, one goal should not decide an entire game, as we had plenty of time to recoup. We needed to get back level in the third period. On the other hand, the goal was a huge blow to us.”
- In what way does your team need to improve for the next match?
Maxime Talbot: "I think we need to continue to play our game. We almost did everything right in these opening games. Yes, there were mistakes, but we still played well, and next time the fans will be on our side. The third meeting will be the key for us. We have to win and take control of this series.”
"It just happens that we lost both games. Game 1 was settled by a single goal, and in overtime. In the second match, things didn't work out as we wanted, although we played some good hockey, especially in the first two periods. SKA’s second goal was the killer”
- Lokomotiv picked up a lot of penalties in the first game but fewer in the second. Did the coaches focus on this?
Maxime Talbot: "Yes, of course, and we managed to play with more discipline. The coaches demanded it, because SKA has very good powerplay units in the team.”
- How does the team feel, physically?
Maxime Talbot: "The whole team feels really good. This are no problems.”
- The series now moves to Yaroslavl. Will the home support help?
Maxime Talbot: "Definitely. The fans have been a great help throughout the playoffs. You can be sure it will be loud at the Arena-2000."