Coming to the first match-up of the new season both teams have performed decently, as Jokerit is on three-game winning streak and Lokomotiv had won two of their five first games in the regular season, and also gained an extra point in a loss against SKA St. Petersburg. Jokerit were in the third place of their Bobrov division and Lokomotiv were holding on to their spot being the fourth team in Tarasov division.
Jokerit captain Marko Anttila was absent from the game due to an illness. Brian O’Neill stood in for him wearing the C on his jersey.
”Everybody leads in a different style. It doesn’t matter who’s wearing the C, because we are a good group there. Nobody needs to be anything else, but what they are. I try to be myself and lead by example", O’Neill said about his sudden role in tonight’s game.
The home team kept the net clean and controlled the game on Tuesday night effectively enough to catch the points with a 2–0 win.
”We were good today right from the get-go. The numbers may look a bit good for the opponent, because we were clearly a better team today. We did a lot of things that helped us get the result. We won like 66 percent of the face-offs and blocked shots well. It was overall a good hockey game from us”, stated Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki after the game.
Jokerit started the game on their home ice with a lot of confidence as they were able to keep the puck control to themselves. They also pushed the game deep into Lokomotiv’s end and often finished their rushes with a hit.
Also Lokomotiv got a few slapshots sent from the blue line towards Jokerit goal, but the goalkeeper Anders Lindbäck didn’t have to make huge effort to stop the pucks.
Lokomotiv did let Jokerit to cross the neutral zone before trying to get the puck back to themselves. On some shifts the puck slipped off Jokerit player’s sticks due to successful defending by the opponent, causing offside.
The home theim received their best chances of the period, when they tried to turn the puck from the back of the net in front of Eddie Pasquale and then into the net. The Canadian goaltender was on top of his duties.covering his post with calmness.
As the first period was getting towards the end, Jokerit managed to get on the scoreboard. Playing through the end boards worked out, when Petteri Lindbohm shot the puck from the blue line and it took a bonce – John Norman was alert and scooped the first goal of the game from a short distance.
”It was very well played by Lindbohm. He saw that it was not possible to play straight to the net, so he bounced it off the boards on purpose”, coach Marjamäki praised his defenceman on the winning goal assist.
The good start carried Jokerit to have the game in their hands on the second period as well. Pasquale had to stay constantly aware of the events on the ice as the shots were coming to him on a regular basis. Defensively Jokerit chased the puck actively, but wisely.
As Lokomotiv tried to get the pace up, they made some mistakes losing the puck or letting the seemingly good situation go by. Jokerit forward Hannes Björninen once came flying through the ice after Lokomotiv lost the puck in the offensive zone – however, Pasquale denied the scoring chance. He also made the biggest save of the night blocking O’Neill’s shot with his pads.
Lokomotiv’s second line lead by Maxim Shalunov created a few possible scoring chances, but in general the visitors didn’t make their way through to Lindbäck’s net.
The game didn’t have much penalties as the first one came into light half way through the whole match. Jokerit forward Teemu Turunen crossed to the net from the corner and forced Pavel Kraskovsky to cut his path. Jokerit didn’t get much done on their power play.
Jokerit kept the 1–0 lead, when the teams left the ice for the second intermission. Despite the tight score, the home team got the game pretty well in their hands, when thinking about the possible winner of the match.
Lokomotiv asked for trouble as Denis Alexeyev took a minor penalty in the first minutes of the third period. Defenceman Danil Misyul had received a heavy hit just before the visitors had to survive two minutes short-handed.
Jokerit weren’t successful on their opportunity of power play, and right after getting back to full strenght, did Markus Hännikäinen get himself a penalty, giving Lokomotiv a good chance to even the score. They got very close once as the puck hit the post behind Lindbäck, but Artur Kayumov couldn’t make the puck cross the line.
Towards the end of the regular time Lokomotiv tried to shake things up with a few heavy hits on the boards. Jokerit did still manage to come out under the pressure and create counter-attacks. KHL’s Star of the Week player Kalle Kossila received a heavy hit from Reid Boucher, who was operating on a little bit of a grey area of the rule book.
Close to the buzzer Veli-Matti Savinainen hit the post behind Pasquale, but didn’t score the relieving 2-0 goal for the home team. Right after that Jesse Joensuu took a dumb offensive zone penalty, making Jokerit to fight for the points short-handed on the last minutes. Even though Shalunov got a good shot against Lindbäck, managed Jokerit to stay ahead until 60 minutes were done.
”It wasn’t a surprise that we wanted a little bit of a payback today after the playoffs. Many of us were feeling down after the season for the first couple of weeks. Of course both of the teams got some changes for this season and the style of playing also changed, but I hope we get our chance to redeem ourselves in the future”, O’Neill pondered.
Joensuu got to finish the score to 2–0 after getting out of the penalty box. Lindbäck needed 12 saves to his first shutout of the season.
”The way we got he shutout today was great. The goaltending coach said that it was a perfect team efford in front of Lindbäck today. I also think that Lokomotiv has the best goaltender in the KHL, and he has shown it for many years”, Marjamäki gave credit to both of the goalkeepers of the game.
Jokerit will play their next match on the home ice, when they will be competing against Torpedo. Lokomotiv will be playing again on Saturday, when Nizhni Novgorod comes to Yaroslavl.
”I wish to get a few days off the ice along with training. There games are important before the schedule loosen’s up a bit. The coaching staff has made a good plan for us for these days”, discussed O’Neill about how he is going to spend the time home before going on tour again.