Admiral, the visitors of Wednesday’s game, had won only one of their last five games in the regular season as they managed to defeat Vityaz by a small margin.
The teams had competed once before this season and back then Jokerit was better in Vladivostok with the score 4–1. On Wednesday Jokerit showed that their game was in shape. The bottom team of the eastern conference didn’t stand a chance. The victory was marked for Jokerit with the same score as in the previous game, 4–1.
”The team was well prepared. The first period was overall good, but the second one wasn’t that good. We thought that we would get things easily. Then the third period was again solid, once we talked things out on the intermission. After being on tour the first game at home is a tough one. We took care of the start of the game and thus got the two points”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki in front of the media.
Jokerit started the game better than their opponents. The home team was able to push the puck to the offensive zone time after time and Admiral were forced to play aggressively and in a risky way to prevent Jokerit to score. The first high-class scoring chance opened for Admiral as the Ushenin brothers played well together Vladislav Ushenin got to breakway from Vyacheslav Ushenin’s pass, but Janne Juvonen at Jokerit net was able to stand in front of the shot.
Jokerit were the first team to get on the scoreboard. Nicklas Jensen crossed into the offensive zone and shot the puck basically through Admiral goaltender Nikita Serebryakov. Iiro Pakarinen, who had returned to the line-up after EHT tournament, did a good job rushing to the net. Shortly after the goal Jordan Schroeder hit Mark Verba in the neutral zone. The heavy hit caused a brawl, which gave the visitors a power play – that didn’t lead to a tying goal anyway.
Once Jokerit got their first power play, it didn’t end the way that the Helsinki team would probably have wanted. Admiral forwards got to two against one attack and Andrei Obidin shot the numbers to 1–1 while the team was playing short-handed. Jokerit didn’t spend too much time to take back the lead as Brian O’Neill found the back of the net a few moments later.
”We could be better on five-on-five. Especially we need to improve our game in the neutral zone, so we could create more offensive plays”, said O’Neill who netted three points, when asked about the efficiency of his line.
Jokerit strenghtened their lead on power play in the end of the first period as Hannes Björninen finished a nice sequence behind Serebryakov. The abrupt penalty ended with a minor penalty taken by Jensen.
Jokerit kept the game in their hands also in the beginning of the second period. The Danishman’s penalty didnt’t backfire for the home team. Juvonen got to make a few solid catches at his working post, when Admiral shot a few pucks towards him.
As the period grew older, the home team got some long shifts in the offensive zone and Jokerit ran long passing sequences near Admiral net. Even Jokerit were successful on power play in the first period, the opportunity on the second period didn’t bring nearly anything to the table for them.
The emotions did rise along the game and after many whistles there were many hassles and brawls on the ice, but nothing too remarkable happened on those encounters. Also a veteran heavyweight forward Evgeny Artyukhin took part on some of the hustle.
Serebryakov had to make a big save right in the first moments of the third period. Admiral goaltender got himself in the way of a shot sent by Julius Junttila. Jokerit forward thus couldn’t score his first goal of the season.
Admiral lost their chance for comeback with some reckless penalties. Even though Jokerit weren’t able to capitalize on them and the gap in score remained in two goals, the visitors still didn’t have much of a chance to fight for points. Artyukhin gave a big hit from the back to O’Neill, but didn’t have to serve a penalty.
”I saw him on the last moment. He skates very well for his size, so you need to be careful. I don’t need to look for many guys on the ice, except him. I thought it would’ve been a check from behind. The referee said that the power play had something to do with it, as I asked about it after the game”, O’Neill mentioned.
Jokerit played solid game, when in the lead. In the offensive zone the home team put the effort on staying in the corners and retaining puck-possession. They preferred a shot towards Admiral goal than taking a possibility of losing control.
The last moments of the game were spent in a calm atmosphere as Admiral weren’t able to get anything special done offensively. Jokerit kept the puck either to themselves or far enough from Juvonen’s net. That secured the points staying in Helsinki.
Jokerit played well through the full 60 minutes and Junttila’s first goal of the season in the last minutes of the game highlighted that the Helsinki team was able to put up a good performance – as could’ve been expected according to the league table. Next Jokerit will against the Spartak Moscow on Saturday.
”We haven’t played much at home lately and these are important for the team. It’s good that wet away with these tour games in the beginning of the season”, O’Neill concluded.