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Jokerit and Spartak played against each other the first time this season. Both teams were holding on to a playoff position before Saturday’s game as Jokerit was leading the Western conference and Spartak were on the last playoff sport.

The home team had been winning a lot lately, losing only once in their last five games. Spartak on the other hand had won their most recent game against Nur-Sultan, but before that the Moscow team had lost three games in a row.

On Friday Jokerit were in the lead for quite some time, but as the game went on, did Spartak gain momentum. The visitors scored the needed goals in the last period and took away the points with the score 4–2.

”The first period was good result-wise. The opponent got a few counter-attacks there. The second period was our best one, even though we lost in result. They got a lucky bounce in the end. And if you don’t score, the opponent will score. Spartak defended well and did strike. They had a bit more spirit to defend and they deserved the win”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki after the game in front of the media.

Also the players agreed on Marjamäki’s message.

”We need to recall how to play to win, when in the lead. We had some cracks in our game and we gave the opponent too many chances”, captain Marko Anttila thought.

Jokerit were efficient

Jokerit started the game a bit better than their opponent, even though Spartak also had their chances to score the opening goal of the game. However, the first goal was scored by Brian O’Neill, who was celebrating his 300th regular season game in the KHL.

The home team managed to put the puck past Alexei Krasikov again, when Hannes Björninen found captain Anttila free in front of the net. Spartak defence wasn’t on top of their duties in that shift. Based on the events on the ice, the first period was pretty even and Janne Juvonen at Jokerit goal had to make a few big saves in order to keep his net untouched.

”At the time of the goal the vibe was good, even though we had some troubles already in the first period. We played coast to coast style, which isn’t the way we want to paly. We need to recognize the situations better and to know when to attack and defend”, Anttila mentioned.

Even though Krasikov had to surrender twice in the second period, he also made his presence known by denying Tommi Kivistö from scoring when Teemu Turunen gave him an excellent pass to a great spot.

Spartak’s Jori Lehterä and Sergei Shirokov created a chance in the end of the first period, but Juvonen was able to stay in front of the puck. Thus, Jokerit went to the first intermission in 2-0 lead.

Spartak came near

Spartak imrpoved in the beginning of the second period and Andrei Loktionov showed some individual skill as he took the puck to the offensive zone with good confidence. Still after a few minutes of pressure Jokerit were able to stabilize the game.

Spartak were asking for trouble, when Emil Pettersson and Loktionov were sent to the penalty box on after the other. Iiro Pakarinen got to use his slapshot, but Krasikov got his glove in front of the puck. The visitors were also willing to block a lot of shots, which made Jokerit power play more diffiult to function.

There weren’t many high quality scoring chances in the second period, but that didn’t mean that Jokerit would’ve had any kind of troubles to keep tthe situation in their hand. Loktionov got a tough hit to his hand, which caused him to leave the game.

Spartak scored their first goal as the second period was closing in. The goal came a bit as a surprice, when it bounced from the end boards to Alexander Avtsin, who got to shoot the puck behind Juvonen, who didn’t have much to work on during the whole period.

Spartak took the points

Spartak started the third period physically strongly as the boards were banging along the hits and battle. It was Lehterä’s line to be successful, when the visitors tied the game. Defenceman Jakub Jerabek shot numbers to 2–2 as starters for he period.

”We didn’t change anything, but maybe we became a little passive even though we didn’t mean to. When they tied the game, we started to play better”, Anttila said.

Jordan Schroeder took a minor penalty, which gave Spartak a chance to take the lead first time in the game. They didn’t manage to do so and neither Jake Virtanen from a breakaway couldn’t score, because David Sklenicka backchecked him fluently.

After a moment of pressure by Spartak, Jokerit received a chance on power play. They didn’t capitalize on special forces, and suddenly it was Sklenicka to go to the bench for two minutes. The teams played in full strenght eventually and then Ivan Drozdov crossed into the zone, did a few tricks and shot the puck sharply behind Juvonen.

Jokerit tried to come back and tie the game before the buzzer, but despite the effort the Helsinki team fell short and gave away the points.

Rematch comes soon

Jokerit came in to the third period in the lead, but Spartak found their fighting spirit, which caused them to push forward and find the way to win the game. Vasili Ponomarev scored an empty-netter to finalize the result.

”We lacked the last bit of efficiency and Spartak’s goaltender played well, taking big saves. We don’t underestimate anybody in this league. This time didn’t score and we didn’t maybe deserve it. The opponent scored. That’s the way to lose a hockey match. We need to be more sharp on Monday", coach Marjamäki stated.

The teams will compete again shortly, as Jokerit will travel to Moscow, where Spartak will host the Helsinki team in the beginning of the week.

”We need to focus on the decisions on the ice and when to take risks. We know, how we’re supposed to play. We need to value things better to win the game. The start of today’s game showed that way, but it didn’t last”, captain Anttila concluded.

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Jokerit (Helsinki) Jokerit (Helsinki)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
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