Julius Junttila and Alex Grant returned to Jokerit roster for Thursday’s game and Anders Lindbäck kept his position at the net. Amur had a few guys absent from the game line-up, which didn’t make the fact that they had lost four of their last five games any easier.
The tight game flew by without much breaks as there weren’t many goals scored or penalties taken. Neither icings or offsides were seen too much. Afterall, in a penalty shootout series the home team was able to score one more than Jokerit and therefore took the win 2–1.
”It was a tight game. We started off well and put some scoring chances. The home team was this bit better. I still saw a lot of good things in our game going towards the game in Vladivostok. Our puck management and last passes could be improved”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki after the game.
The first minutes were kind of nervous from both sides, even though Jokerit were able to keep control of the puck. Still crossing the neutral zone seemed to be difficult, perhaps due to the starting time. For the home team it wasn’t anything unusual, but for Jokerit the game began at noon Finnish time.
The puck went across the ice multiple times and the teams weren’t able to get into the offensive zone with the wanted sequences. And even when the scoring chances appeared, the shots left without proper direction.
”The time itself wasn’t a problem as we woke up already around six o’clock. We had enough time to get ourselves awake. Although in the first period our feet were a bit heavy. For myself, I haven’t had much games lately, so it was tough. I am healthy, but I just need to get some games in order to get in the proper condition, when it comes to playing”, Julius Junttila stated.
Jokerit got a few chances on power play, but Yevgeni Alikin stood in front of the puck and the defence cleared the zone every time, when given a chance. When the period was coming towards its end, Amur defenceman Alexei Volgin got to try scoring from close distance. Jokerit goaltender Lindbäck moved his pad on the puck’s way.
In the beginning of the second period both teams got their chances. Jokerit forward Markus Hännikänen was close to stick a rebound behind Alikin, but he couldn’t quite reach the puck in front of the net. The period went along quite many minutes without much breaks or massive chances. There were a couple of moments, when the clock ticked straight for multiple minutes, even over six.
Home team Amur were the first team to get on the score board as Vladimir Butuzov put the puck into the net after a beautiful passing sequence. Ivan Nikolishin and Alexander Gorshkov got the assists to the first goal of the game.
When trailing behind Jokerit got the puck control back to themselves. The visitors were willing to stay calm to find out the right pace to cross the ice. Amur weren’t too eager to do their forechecking in the neutral zone.
The period finished with Amur playing on man-advantage as Jokerit captain Marko Anttila was sent to the penalty box to serve a minor penalty. The home team didn’t get anything done and Hannes Björninen was able to try scoring from a counter-attack. However, the shot ended up to be unsuccessful.
Jokerit got a good chance to tie the game, when Junttila reached to the puck sent by Anttila. However, Jokerit forward wasn’t able to get his first goal of the season and the shot went just wide of Amur net. Junttila also had a few more chances later in the period.
”I improved my playing through the game. I also had a few chances. The problem seems to be that the last needed efficiency is lacking. With that I would start getting the results”, Junttila wondered.
The tying goal suddenly came a few shifts later. Jokerit won the offensive zone face-off and John Norman delivered the puck to the blue line, where Niklas Friman was ready. He shot the puck to the net and was able to surprice goaltender Alikin. Soon Jokerit got a good momentum in the offsneive zone, but Amur answered with physical presence. That also caused the home team a penalty.
Even though Jokerit weren’t able to take the lead on the power play, they got a huge pressure at Alkin’s work post. Goaltender was able to sweep the puck away a couple of times from a dangerous zone. Teemu Turunen had the best chance to lift the puck to the net, but Alkin raised his pad and saved.
On the last ten minutes of the regular time the game really opened up as both teams got serious chances to capitalize. Goaltenders on both ends kept showing some great manoeuvres preventing the puck to go in. As Amur weren’t able to score on a power play they received on the last minutes, some extra time was required.
The overtime started with both teams having a player in the penalty box as Petteri Lindbohm and Radan Lenc were sent simultaneously to serve a minor penalty.
As the name of the game seemed to be, the overtime didn’t include that much interruption to the running clock. Gorshkov got into breakaway on the last seconds of the overtime and the puck even went into the net, but the video review confirmed that the score didn’t count – therefore a penalty shootout was needed.
The conclusion of the game was seen only in the few last pairs of the penalty shootout series. The fifth pair started, when the situation was tied 2–2. Turunen was unsuccessful for Jokerit and Nikolishin defeated Lindbäck. That gave Amur the bigger pot of points.
Jokerit will continue their tour in the far east on Saturday, when they will compete against Admiral in Vladivostok.
”Even though we lost, we weren’t that bad. We could’ve also won as the game was very even. These kinds of games are never easy, but we should’ve won though. The game against Admiral on Saturday shouldn’t be that difficult to start with as we’re already here and it’s only a few hours flight there. We get to recover well and we will be more ready also on individual level. We just need to keep our defencive game the same we had it today and improve from there”, Junttila concluded.