Avangard had been struggling with their injury issues, as four players had been ruled out from Saturday’s game. Ivan Telegin probably being the biggest name missing.
Jokerit were in incipient winning-streak before the game against Avangard as they had won Traktor and Kunlun Red Star in their previous games. Henrik Haapala remained in injury list for the Helsinki team.
The events on the ice remained intense and evenly matched from the beginning to the very end. Jokerit capitalized their momentum better in the last period and finished the game strongly. The end result was 3–2 for the visitors.
”We were good in the first period and the third period was probably our best. We struggled a little in the second period and we knew that we would need a high class performance today to get the result. I am very proud of the team and the way we played”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki in the press conference after the game.
Also the team captain Marko Anttila thought that Jokerit were solid in game against the reigning champion.
”It was a good game from us. We improved from the last game and especially in the defensive game our structure was better. We had good turnovers – surely we could be more careful with the puck as well”, Anttila mentioned.
Both teams started the game with high pace and rushed to the offensive zone corners. Jokerit got the first high quality scoring chance, when Jordan Schroeder got free near Avangard’s goal. Simon Hrubec got the pads on the puck’s way.
Veli-Matti Savinainen took a penalty for Jokerit ending a good shift for the team, and it caused the first setback for the visitors. Peter Cehlarik put up the first goal of the night behind the Swedish goaltender Anders Lindbäck.
The opening goal didn’t make Jokerit to fall back as they kept their game together tightly. even when chasing the score. Iiro Pakarinen brought Jokerit to even score already before the half way mark of the first period. He got on the scoreboard in fourth consecutive game.
”Last season was tough for us and we made a few tactical changes to our style of playing. Tonight was very close to the ideal. We trust in our skating in the defensive game, and we had lost the blue line too easily in the first few matches. Now our five against five game has improved a lot”, Marjamäki praised.
The Finnish visitor got the game to their control and the reigning champion had to constantly be on their toes and defend with cautiousness. There were long periods of non-stop play in the period, so Avangard didn’t get to keep the shift rotation as they would’ve hoped.
As the intermission came closer, tried Avangard to play more physical game and get the puck to themselves already, when Jokerit was leaving their own zone.
The second period didn’t start the way Jokerit would’ve wanted, because Julius Junttila found himself sitting in the penalty box right from the get-go. Avangard didn’t get much done in the power play, but they maintained the puck possession after Junttila’s penalty ended. Cehlarik got a tasty chance to put the home team to lead, but his shot did rise over the net.
Jokerit didn’t get potential chances in the opening minutes of the second period, but Junttila sprinted to test the reflexes of Hrubec. When Junttila wasn’t successful in his attempt, turned Avangard the game back to their offensive zone.
The puck rolled on the boards from where Lindbäck tried to push it back to the neutral zone. However, Ville Pokka was aware on the blueline, intercepted the attempt and shot the puck to Jokerit net. A silver medalist from Finnish national team in this year’s world championship took a bigger role in Avangard defence as the game went on.
Jokerit started to play more actively and shot the puck to the net even from narrow corners, trying to surprice Avangard’s Czech goaltender Hrubec. The home team was very close to get two-goal lead, when centerrman Nikolai Prokhorkin surfed his way through Jokerit defence. Only the finishing fell short.
Jokerit started the third period with a few heavy hits in the offensive end boards. Markus Hännikäinen was able to make his way to the net and pushed the puck behind Hrubec making the score even again. Jokerit took advantage with the attitude they showed in the first few shifts.
The visitors pushed the pressure to Avangard’s zone and were able to create rebound chances along the decisive moments. Avangard’s Nikita Komarov made things even more difficult to the home team taking a minor penalty due to the good effort of Jokerit.
Savinainen, who had played a good game so far, was the guy to score the leading goal for Jokerit half way through the third period. The Helsinki team had possibly the whole game’s most obvious scoring chance, but the two against nothing situation fizzled.
Avangard got the game to the offensive zone in the last minutes, but Jokerit managed to keep the opponents off the scoring chances. The puck stayed mostly along the boards, which meant that Avangard couldn’t make the tying goal.
Jokerit got their third win in a row and will continue their season on Tuesday in a home game against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
”We have played a lot against them through the few last seasons. It will take a lot from us, because they have big, strong and fast guys in the team. The playoffs last season were lousy for us”, captain Anttila reminded.
In season 2020–2021 Jokerit lost straight in four games in the first playoff round against their Tuesday’s opponent, so the Helsinki team obviously wants a put up a good fight in the first match-up of the new season.