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Jokerit took a big step towards confirming its playoff place with a convincing victory at in-form Metallurg. The home team came into Sunday’s game on the back of a 10-game winning streak but failed to come to terms with a Finnish opponent determined to finish its regular season strongly and build momentum to take into the playoffs.

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2 Jokerit Helsinki 5 (0-1, 0-2, 2-2)

The visitor took the lead in the eighth minute when Saku Maenalanen’s pass from deep in his own zone floated beyond the reach of Yegor Yakovlev and released Markus Hannikainen to beat Juho Olkinuora. Metallurg believed it had equalized five minutes later when Maxim Karpov bundled the puck into the net. An initial review agreed that the goal was scored before the net was pushed from its moorings, but a bench challenge by Lauri Marjamaki persuaded the officials to look again and established that Karpov impeded Anders Lindback.

Photo: 14.02.21. KHL Championship 2020-2021. Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) - Jokerit (Helsinki)

The first period ended with all 10 players on the ice getting embroiled in a robust exchange of opinions after the hooter. In the event, four men — Yakovlev and Korobkin for Metallurg, Loov and Ikonen for Jokerit — took minors for roughing. The Jokerit penalty box was in danger of overcrowding when Veli-Matti Savinainen got a tripping penalty at the start of the third, but the visitor killed off the power play.

Metallurg was enjoying more of the game in the second period, with Jokerit taking regular trips to the box. However, Lindback was equal to the home team’s efforts and the Finns extended their lead late in the frame. Hannikainen returned the favor to Maenalanen, whose shot went through Olkinuora on its way into the net. The combination delivered a third goal, this time on the power play, when Hannikainen sent Maenalanen into the Metallurg zone. Saku burned past Philip Holm and produced a backhand finish over Olkinuora’s shoulder.

However, Metallurg hit back in the third. Dennis Rasmussen redirected a Taylor Beck effort beyond Lindback’s reach to make it 1-3. Next, Nikolai Prokhorkin twice came close to finding the net, only to be denied by the Swedish netminder. However, Rasmussen made it a one-goal game with 10 minutes to play, with Beck among the assists once again.

Under pressure, Jokerit responded to make the game safe. First, Niklas Jensen dinged the crossbar then, a minute later, the Danish forward saw his shot padded to the slot, where Savinainen evaded the attentions of Nikolai Kulemin to put away the rebound. An empty net effort from former Metallurg man Iiro Pakarinen sealed the verdict for the visitor as the Finns moved nine points clear of ninth-placed Spartak.

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