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Jokerit and SKA met each other first time this season on last Friday. These two top teams of the whole KHL gave the over 10 000 spectators in Helsinki such a show that it won’t be forgotten any time soon. David Sklenicka scored the deciding goal in overtime after a high-paced thriller.

On Sunday the Saint Petersburg team played against Barys Nur-Sultan and resulted another loss, giving SKA a minor losing-streak.

Also a big factor before the second match-up has been the player transfer of Mikko Lehtonen, who had made himself known in Jokerit jersey before going to the North America. The defenceman just returned to the KHL, but this time representing SKA. However, the Finnishman wasn’t in the roster on Tuesday.

”I am the coach and I keep the focus on things I can make decisions about and that’s it”, Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki stated about case of Lehtonen.

On Tuesday’s game there weren’t as many goals as in Helsinki last week, but the quality of the game was mostly as high as could’ve expected based on the previous show. SKA scored the needed goals in the third period and got the points with 2–0 victory.

”It was a tight game today and I think too quality teams played against each other. We were discplined and only took two penalties. Offensively our passing game wasn’t there and SKA was this little much better today. We have to respect their penalty kills as we didn’t get a result on our power play today”, Marjamäki said in the press conference.

Once again the pace was there

As on Friday’s game, also on Tuesday the pace was high and both teams had their forechecking deep in the opponents zone. Jokerit defenceman Tommi Kivistö was forced to take a penalty, giving SKA its first opportunity on special forces. Anders Lindbäck was ready at his post and took care of the situation.

After the power play of the home team the strenghts did even up, not only literally, but also the events on the ice became a bit more stable. SKA was holding on to the puck, but still Jokerit didn’t have any problems keeping the opponents out of the danger zone.

Nicklas Jensen got to shoot the puck towards SKA goaltender Lars Johansson, but he shielded the shot and steered it towards the ceiling. As aftermath, there was some punching and arguing behind the SKA net, but no penalties were given.

Also Jokerit received their opportunity on power play in the first period, but apart from Schroeder’s attempt, the visitors didn’t get much done on special forces. A few minutes before the intermission the fourth lone got some chances for Jokerit, but Johansson stood in front of the puck.

Long time, no goals

The second period started with SKA playing with a man-advantage as Schroeder took a minor penalty in the last minute of the first period. The home team got the formation together, but yet couldn’t capitalize the first goal of the game.

Both teams tried to put out active playing and for example Andrei Kuzmenko, who was one of the best players on the ice in the previous game, showed up some talent in a few attacks towards Jokerit goal. Mostly the game remained tight and secure in the defensive side.

Jokerit got one of their best chances during the period, when the third line rushed towards the net. Johansson managed to cover the puck against the ice, even though also Philip Holm tried to reach it. The visitors received a power play as Marat Khusnutdinov was sent to the box due to delaying the game.

As Jokerit weren’t able to get the lead even on their third opportunity on special forces, also the second period slowly ran out of time scoreless. Anton Burdasov had an amazing opportunity in the very last minute and so did Brian O’Neill, but goaltenders were set up to their tasks.

Gusev stepped up

SKA started the third period with good puck possession, but Jokerit were able to steal the puck back and create some action of their own in the offensive zone. In general, the ice was most of the times packed with players, so it was very difficult to create scoring chances.

When the needed space wasn’t there, the teams tried to cross the neutral zone with more controlled and slowed sequences. The puck was kept in play surpricingly long times in a row without a break, which let both teams to get their game flowing.

SKA got their go-ahead goal by a witty play by Nikita Gusev. The former NHL forward dumped the puck to the end boards and Ivan Morozov was the first player to reach the bounce. A sharp shot passed Lindbäck and went into Jokerit net.

”They have a very good team over there. Both goalies played well tonight too. It’s just sometimes tigher and sometimes there are more goals. I didn’t notice too much changes. Both teams sticked to their structures. Both sides were for sure breaking down the videos and they got the job done and we didn’t”, Jokerit forward Jordan Schroeder thought after the game.

Burdasov was very close to seal the result with a goal, but Lindbäck denied his effort a few minutes before the buzzer. Jokerit got a good pressure going in the offensive zone. After a timeout the visitors kept the puck to themselves and chased the tying goal. Afterall, Johansson didn’t allow a single goal in the whole 60 minutes. Joonas Kemppainen secured the win for SKA with an empty-netter.

SKA got their revenge

If scoring was in the key role on Friday’s game, this time defence and organized team effort were crucial in order to get the points. Both teams did well, but the home team had the individual talent to find the opportunities to score the needed goals.

Jokerit will play their next game on Thursday, when Metallurg comes to Helsinki. Schroeder gave a brief thought about the upcoming match.

”They will be another good team. They have 14 or 15 wins in a row or something. We will get ready and not worry too much. We stick to the game plan, and then we usually have the success and chance”, Schroeder concluded.

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Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
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