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Jokerit were about to face an ultimate challenge at their home ice, as Metallurg Magnitogorsk hadn’t lost only, but two games in the entire regular season. The visitors were on the first place in the Eastern Conference of the KHL with the 34 points they had gathered in their 19 games.

The home team Jokerit came to the Thursday’s game after competing with SKA in two games in a row. The Helsinki team won the first match-up, but ended up losing 2–0 in their most recent game in Saint Petersburg.

Anders Lindbäck remained in the net for Jokerit and the Swedish foward John Norman returned to the lineup. Minding the net for Metallurg was Juho Olkinuora, who took the Finnish national team to World Championship silver medals in Riga last spring.

Jokerit seemed to get a smooth victory, but the beginning of the third period showed that Metallurg didn’t want to forfeit. Eventually the end of the game was a tight battle for the points. In the end, the visitors got the win in overtime with the score being 5–4.

”We entered the game very well. I think the shots were 31–6 in the first period. We didn’t get all of them through, but our lead was justified. In the second period the game took turns as we scored a second and a third one, but we weren’t able to keep the lead. If you’re leading 3–0, you can’t allow a goal and in the next shift you can’t take a penalty. A goal was scored from that and yet in the very next shift we took another penalty, and got scored against again. Then there was an unsuccessful delivery, which caused a breakway and a goal”, Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki wondered.

Jokerit scored first

Both teams had their chances in the intensive start for the game. The audience was lived well in the events on the ice with clapping and chanting. Philippe Maillet got the first minor penalty of the game as he tripped Jokerit captain Marko Anttila down to the ice on the blue line.The penalty didn’t backfire to Metallurg.

After the power play the home team got a few nice opportunities to get the opening goal. Teemu Turunen sent a sharp wrister towards Olkinuora, but he was able to catch the puck to his armpit. The Finn also denied Hannes Björninen to score for Jokerit.

Jokerit got some momentum as the first period went on, but Metallurg kept their defence tightly together in order to prevent the home team to score. Veli-Matti Savinainen was one of the players to notice Olkinuora’s good vibe.

Jokerit got another chance on special forces at the end of the first period. The best scoring chance opened for Metallurg, when playing short-handed Pavel Akolzin got to try to pass Lindbäck with his wrist shot. The period was about to end, when Niklas Friman got the puck at the blue line – the defenceman loaded his slapshot and the puck seemed to take a bounce from Henri Ikonen, going into the net.

"We got a good feeling from the goals. We were onto our game right from the beginning and we gave one of our best performances. We controlled the game and defended well. We didn’t let them get chances and we created long shifts in the offensive zone and won the loose pucks”, Iiro Pakarinen analysed.

Lindbäck was on fire

The home team started the second period with a good shift, when both Brian O’Neill and Jesse Joensuu got to try defeating Olkinuora. However, the momentum for Jokerit got turned down as they were forced to play short-handed. Brendan Leipsic and Josh Currie got shots towards Lindbäck, but weren’t able to tie the game.

Playing with special forces kept on going further in the period and the breaks gave their own affection to the game. David Sklenicka was very close to double Jokerit lead with a heavy shot. The puck went just wide of the Metallurg net. Still on the same power play Philip Holm came across the ice and put the pressure to the offensive zone. After a short passing sequence the Swedishman shot 2–0 goal.

Metallurg got their chance to get on the scoreboard. Nikita Korostelev had a good effort with a rebould puck, but Lindbäck denied. Jokerit goaltender showed his magic with saving the situation, when Maillet and Leipsic ran to two against one attack. Little later in the period the tension heated up a at Jokerit net, when Metallurg payers didn’t take any steps back, when attacking into the zone.

As Jokerit had taken the grip on the game, the events on the ice went in the home teams favor. Third goal of the night was made by defenceman Petteri Lindbohm. He swept the puck from the blue line towards Metallurg net a bit out of the blue, surpricing Olkinuora. Metallurg were able to get their first goal by Artyom Zemchyonok, just before the period’s end.

Jokerit had a horrible start for the third period

Metallurg scored their second goal right in the first minute of the third period, bringing the visitors a great momentum. Maxim Karpov’s power play goal was followed by a penalty for Jokerit. And as things had started to go wrong for the home team, there was more to come. This time Karpov was the one who assisted the goal that Mailet scored.

”Of course the result irritates. We lost the win and got only a point. In the big picture we played well as the opponent was trailing back in the first period. In the second period they got back in and scored on power play. We had a lousier moment in the game. In the third period we pushed ourselves back and had our own chances to win, but afterall it bounced to the opponent. Metallurg is a top team in the league and we controlled the game well from time to time”, said Pakarinen after the game.

Björninen and Tommi Kivistö had a couple of opportunities to take the lead back to themselves. Olkinuora came onwards from the net and captured the puck. For a moment the game seemed to have settled, but suddenly Leipsic was on a breakaway – a smooth lift to Jokerit net gave Metallurg the lead first time in the game.

In the third period there was a moment of uncertainty that ended the way that Metallurg’s Denis Zernov was sent off the ice due to insulting the referees. Jokerit managed to get back on track and tied the score. Turunen got his stick on the way of a flying puck and made it to change directions the way that Olkinuora couldn’t make a save at his net. A few shifts later Nicklas Jensen shot to the post of Metallurg goal.

The home team got the pressure to Metallurg’s zone in the last minutes of the regular time. Still, the puck didn’t go into either one of the goals on the ice. It meant that the score had to be decided on overtime. The winning goal of the game was one kind of a wonder. Linus Hultström turned the puck from behind the goal and bounced it into the net behind the surpriced Lindbäck.

”It’s tough to say. We have had the same problem in other games as well. We haven’t been able to cut their momentum. We need to learn how to play in the lead, even though we would be taking penalties”, Pakarinen thought about why Jokerit keeps getting the difficult moments inside of even good games.

Metallurg had a victorious visit

Both teams had their own momentums in the game and there weren’t many stable moments in the game. Metallurg managed to capitalize their chances better and received the bigger pot of points.

”When not taking that five minutes into the count, we played a good game. The opponent scored from chances. We were about to win, but a lucky goal behind the net decided the game. We only deserved one point”, Marjamäki said.

Jokerit will conclude their week in a home game agains Dinamo Riga on Sunday afternoon. The Latvian team parted ways with the head coach Sergei Zubov on Thursday.

”This is the first time I hear about this, so it doesn’t affect on any way. We will go into this game the same way we go on any other game. We want a win from that match”, said Pakarinen about the situation going on in Dinamo.

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Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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