(Jokerit leads the series 2-1)
In 2015, when Jokerit played its first KHL season, it progressed through the opening round of the playoffs in five games, despite an overtime loss to Dinamo Minsk in game one in Helsinki. Steve Moses was in his pomp, and the Finnish team revelled in its first taste of post season action in our league.
Fast forward: in 2018, Jokerit lost its first game in overtime. Since then, it has battled back against HC Sochi to lead the series 2-1 – and Moses is back on the scoresheet.
The American forward got the fourth goal in this game, lifting Jokerit into a two-goal lead as the midway point of the third period approached. It was a margin too great for Sochi to recover and put the Finns ahead in the series for the first time. And he was back on target to make it 6-2 as the Finns ran riot for the second game running.
The series so far had produced two contrasting games. In the first, the teams were nip and tuck before Sochi snatched a 4-3 verdict in double overtime. The next day, Jokerit was rampant in response, powering to a 7-2 victory. Today’s game combined the two – an even battle until late in the second, then a third-period blitz brought a repeat of that 7-2 margin.
Sochi got the start it needed, taking the lead in the fourth minute. The host harried the Jokerit defense into an error, Nikita Shchitov fed Eric O’Dell on the slot, and the forward made no mistake from close range to open the scoring.
It felt like this game would be more like the first when Jesse Joensuu tied it up for Jokerit in the 10th minute, winning his duel with Konstantin Barulin after Peteri Wirtanen’s defense-splitting pass. The second period also saw the teams trading goals: Olli Palola put Jokerit up, Sean Collins swatted home a looping rebound from Adam Polasek’s shot to tie the game.
But then came Marko Anttila, breaking that 2-2 scoreline with a powerful shot that bounced off Barulin’s glove on the way to the net. Jokerit was ahead late in the middle frame, and there was no way back for Sochi.
Moses added a fourth in the 48th minute, then a spate of power play goals sealed Sochi’s fate. Palola got his second, Moses did likewise, and Peter Regin wrapped up another emphatic win with 69 seconds left to play. Sochi needs to reverse the momentum of this series fast if it is to progress beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time.