Nizhny Novgorod (17:00)
(CSKA leads the series 2-1)
After scoring the game’s opening goal, the forward provided the screen as Matt Gilroy’s point shot flashed past Sorokin in the 18thminute of overtime. That converted Jokerit’s second power play of the extras and hauled the Finns back into contention in the series. It also laid a ghost from last season’s playoff encounter between the two teams, when Jokerit took the game to overtime on three occasions, but lost every one.
Earlier, Palola had denied Sorokin a KHL playoff record when he opened the scoring in the 32nd minute of this game. The CSKA goalie had gone 213 minutes, 51 seconds without allowing a goal, just 89 seconds short of Mikko Koskinen’s mark of 215:20 from the 2016 post season.
Palola pounced to fire home the rebound after an Eeli Tolvanen shot bounced off the CSKA goalie’s pad, and midway through the second period, Jokerit had its first goal of the series. More importantly, CSKA was down in a game for the first time in this year’s playoffs, and deservedly so following a string of minor penalties that handed the Finns the initiative in the middle frame.
Earlier, too, Jokerit might have got in front in this game. Eeli Tolvanen’s one-timer was blocked for Niclas Jensen, but the Dane hesitated with the goal at his mercy – to shoot, or not to shoot? - and ultimately put his effort into the crowd. Tolvanen finished the period by drawing a big blocker save from Sorokin, but there was nothing to separate the teams at the intermission.
After Palola’s goal, however, Ramo found himself the busier of the two goalies. Jokerit’s cause wasn’t helped by a match penalty for Tommi Kivisto for a somewhat harsh-looking slashing call as CSKA piled on the pressure, but Ramo was in fine form. A lightning glove save just before that penalty and a big save from Valery Nichushkin in the final seconds of the frame were among the goalie’s highlights as he helped his team kill a 3-on-5 situation and take its lead into the second intermission.
But CSKA tied the game early in the third period after a goal that had a slice of luck to accompany it. Mikhail Pashnin’s point shot wasn’t unduly threatening, the traffic in front of the Jokerit net was not unusually busy, but a deflection off a home defenseman lifted the puck past Ramo and tied the game. In the third period, CSKA had forced four face-offs in the Jokerit end within the opening 90 seconds and the pressure paid off for the Muscovites.
Shortly afterwards, Jokerit was up against it when Jesper Jensen became the second player to be ejected from the game. The home crowd in Helsinki reacted angrily to the call, with Jensen’s departure accompanied by a chorus of jeers and even a few objects thrown onto the ice, but there could be little argument after the defenseman led with his shoulder and crashed right into Sergei Shumakov’s face. However, even with CSKA enjoying a five-minute power play, there were few big chances at either end as the game moved into overtime.
In the extras, Geoff Platt had a great chance to win it for CSKA after Ramo allowed a big rebound. The home net was wide open, but Mika Niemi kept Platt away from goal and saved his team. Jokerit found itself under increasing pressure, though, reduced to four active defensemen after Niclas Andersen ran into problems and joined his colleagues Jensen and Kivisto on the sidelines. But it weathered the storm and took its opportunity when it came, breathing new life into the series.