If Jokerit had been in a little bit of a downfall lately, had the latest games been difficult for Neftehimik as well. That is to say that the visitors of the night had lost five consecutive games before facing Jokerit on Tuesday.
However, Neftehimik were able to seek comfort from the past, as they had won Jokerit in two of the latest match-ups between the teams.
The game ended up to be a difficult one for Jokerit. Neftehimik didn’t have much control to the events on the ice, but they managed to scored from their chances with high percentage.
”This was a bad game by us. This is about skating and competing. We weren’t even close today. Always, when we got a momentum and we’re trying hard and the opponent visits our zone, the puck ends up in our net. We need to cut off that trend. It’s no use to feel blue about this any more. Tomorrow we analyze and on Thursday we have a new opportunity”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki in press conference.
The visitors got an efficient start for the game as Dan Sexton skated to the corner of the net, and he had a great impact in a goal that put Neftehimik up one goal. Jokerit weren’t defensively at their best on the shift as Kalle Kossila let the middle of the ice too open so Sexton got to move closer. The goal was afterall marked for Danila Popov, who delivered the puck to the net.
Jokerit had difficulties to get their game going, but as Veli-Matti Savinainen and Teemu Turunen got to two-against-one attack, the Helsinki team got some boost – even though the Finn Frans Tuohimaa between Neftehimik’s pipes denied Savinainen to score.
Despite the fact that Jokerit got the control to the game, scored Neftehimik also the second goal of the game. Captain Marat Khairullin shot the puck behind Anders Lindbäck straight to the net.
”It’s amusing, how the first periods have been so tough as we try to prepare ourselves. Playing with the puck gives us trouble. The puck bounces and gets lost. We need to improve”, Jokerit captain Marko Anttila wondered.
The home team got back in the saddle and on the power play that Jokerit got Brian O’Neill managed to scoop the puck into the net from a close distance. Due to a big hassle at the net the referees of the game decided to use the chance for video review – after a long discussion the goal was disallowed.
”It’s a good question, wheather it’s in our game or in our minds. It shouldn’t be this difficult. We need to simplify our game and play more careful with the puck. This is not because we lack in physical presence”, Anttila continued.
As the remainder of the power play or the last minutes of the period didn’t bring anything to the scoreboard, the first intermission started in a two-goal lead of Neftehimik.
Jokerit got a good few shifts in the beginning of the second period and defenceman Otto Leskinen was able shoot the puck towards the goal and Jordan Schroeder tipped to reach the post of the net behind Tuohimaa.
Neftehimik got a chance to play power play, but were forced to take a penalty of their own. To that matter, the teams were playing four on four for a while. Just as Kalle Kossila got back to the ice from the penalty box, took Iiro Pakarinen some hit, but Neftehimik wasn’t given another minor penalty.
The home team was able to open their score as Hannes Björninen got his stick to the right place in order to slide the puck in. Just in the next shift Savinainen was on a breakaway, but couldn’t capitalize and make the score even.
The visitors were in trouble as Jokerit pushed forward, when the second period went along. Against almost all odds Neftehimik was able to score their third goal before Jokerit managed to put the game to tied situation. Rafael Bikmullin put the puck past Lindbäck. Khairullin did put the visitors 4–1 ahead with his second goal of the night not much after Bikmullin’s successful effort. The period ended with Jokerit being a little confused with the recent events.
As Neftehimik lead already by three goals, the visitors had a secure position to defend their lead. On the other hand, Jokerit tried to get their game going with some line changes and heavy hits. Still Tuohimaa on Neftehimik net didn’t have too many difficult moments at his work post.
”It’s always an effort to gain new energy. Also new sequences and reaction play a role, when the linemate isn’t that familiar. Our second period wasn’t that bad either, even though the opponent scored a few goals”, captain Anttila stated.
When Ronald Knot took a minor penalty, Jokerit had probably their last chanch really start chasing the score. On the contrary, Timur Khafizov managed to run towards Lindbäck, who gave a rebound – from that Khafizov spinned around the net and put the puck the fifth time into home team’s net.
Even though Jokerit got a chance to play on two-man advantage, they didn’t stand a chance to get back to the game. Nicklas Jensen’s big slapshot was blocked by Nefthehimik defence. After a long time trying, Alex Grant managed to score his second goal of the season – making the score 2–5.
Neftehimik’s Libor Hudacek hurt himself in a collision with Petteri Lindbohm in the neutral zone. The players knees slammed together in high speed. After the collision Jokerit got a good momentum going in the offensive zone, but finishing wasn’t at the very top level in order to score the much needed goals.
When Jokerit got a power play with eight minutes on the clock, head coach Marjamäki decided to pull Lindbäck from the net. The pressure at Neftehimik’s net was close to insane and afterall Jensen got to shoot the puck behind Tuohimaa.
The last minutes of the regular time were total dominance of Jokerit, but the home team had to admit that close calls weren’t counted as goals. Therefore Neftehimik were able to take the points with them. Pavel Poryadin made the score to 6–3 with empty-netter goal.
The Helsinki team has now lost four consecutive games. Jokerit will play next time on Thursday in Hartwall Arena as they face Sibir Novosibirsk.
”We spoke about the subject before the season. We knew that we would play approximately every other day. We are prepared for that. I enjoy such rhythm, even though my start of the season has had some issues. There’s nothing wrong with the schedule. We are able to recover from previous matches”, Anttila said.
The last game for Jokerit will be on Friday, when they play their first game against SKA this season. They will also compete with them next week in Saint Petersburg.