There were a quite a few penalties taken in the third period on weekend’s game, so it was interesting to see, if the same tune was in on Monday as well. Jokerit changed their goaltender since the last game as Anders Lindbäck was at the net instead of Janne Juvonen. Nicklas Jensen was absent due to personal reasons.
Intensity was through the roof right from the get-go as there were two pairs of fighting players in the first puck-drop. Since the first shift the tension was there to make sure the game remained passionate. After many colorful events Jokerit got the points with a clear 6–1 win.
”Last time we didn’t play the way we expected. Today we battled hard and our team character was huge and penalty-killing was also good. I think we deserved the win today. We went through this all in a meeting yesterday. Guys understood things and we want to grow to be a winning team. We needed that kind of an experience”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki after the game.
The game truly started in an explosivew way, as Nikita Sokolov took a brawl with Markus Hännikäinen and Oleg Yevenko took a heavyweight match against Marko Anttila. Those two are the two tallest players in the whole KHL. Each player involved got a five minute penalty for fighting.
Jokerit got to an early lead as Julius Junttila shot the puck past Alexei Krasikov, who got to start also in the second match-up between the two teams. The start of the game wasn’t the best one possible for Krasikov, as Teemu Turunen scored an easy goal that gave Jokerit 2–0 lead and made the goaltender look a bit foolish. It was also worth noticing that Alexander Khoklachev had returned to first line for Spartak. On the other hand, Andrei Loktionov who player on Saturday, wasn’t on the ice in Moscow.
”An accident happened in the last game and they announced that I need to take my responsibilities about it. I did it, took care of it and then we started playing hockey”, Hännikäinen thought about the events of the first shift.
As the period went on, the home team got a bit better grip to the game and also Lindbäck had to stay aware at his post. Jokerit were still close to score their third, when Iiro Pakarinen and Kalle Kossila skated fast towards the net, but Spartak defence managed to block the pass between the two forwards.
Brian O’Neill steered Pakarinen’s shot to the net with his leg and the referees of the game didn’t see a kicking motion there after a review. That caused Krasikov to leave his work post and let Oscar Dansk between the pipes. The first period ended with clear dominance of Jokerit, even though the Helsinki team had to play short-handed for the last few mins before intermission.
The second period seemed to be no kind of a difference as Jokerit pushed the pressure towards Spartak net. Defenceman Petteri Lindbohm shot the score already to pretty clear 4–0 and made the Swedish goaltender Dansk to allow his first goal of the night.
As Jokerit were maintaining the control on the ice, weren’t Spartak able to create the much needed scoring chances. And when they tried, it ended up in an unfortunate way. For example Jake Virtanen got hurt in front of the net as the puck did strike him in high speed. He was able to continue playing despite the collision.
The game flew by without many breaks in the second period. One over four-minute session without a whistle ended in a good save made by Jokerit goaltender Lindbäck. In general he didn’t have to make game-saving stops. It was striking that Jori Lehterä’s line wasn’t on a roll in the same way they played on Saturday.
Otto Leskinen gave with his slapshot already a five-goal lead for the visitors. O’Neill gave a great pass for the defenceman and Veli-Matti Savinainen made sure with his screen that Dansk didn’t see the puck going in. A bit later Sergei Shirokov got into a breakaway and even though Lindbäck saved the first shot, the forward followed his rebound and scored the first goal for the home team.
Jokerit got on a power play in the beginning of the third period. Virtanen, who had been aggressive through almost the whole game, was sent to serve a minor penalty as a result of hooking on Alex Grant. However, the Helsinki team wasn’t successful on their man-advantage.
There were penalties in the last part of the game that made the events on the ice a little bit unstable. That meant also that Spartak didn’t stand a chance to start any kind of climb towards fight for the points. The home team still held on to their dignity and they didn’t give up, despite the score seemed hopeless for them.
The last minutes of the game were spent mostly with some players in the penalty box. Spartak seemingly kept the puck more as the clock ticked towards the final buzzer. The home team got a chance to try scoring with six against three players on the ice, but Lindbäck stood in every shot’s way.
Afterall, was obvious that Jokerit were about to take the points with them – which they eventually did. Hännikäinen sprinted to score an empty netter making Spartak’s Finnish star Lehterä look like he had forfeited.
Jokerit were ready to fight for the points after losing to Spartak in an irritating way on Saturday. In the game played in Moscow the Helsinki team was in charge from the beginning to the end.
”This was mostly a solid game by us. We gave the game away to the opponent last time and we agreed on taking the hard work win with united effort”, Hännikäinen mentioned.
The Helsinki team will be playing again on Wednesday, when they compete against Lokomotiv in away game in Yaroslavl. Jokerit recruited a Russian defenceman Vitali Menshikov to their team. It’s still unclear, when he will be in action.
”We didnt have much depth in our roster, only six defencemen as Philip Holm is injured. We found a big hearted player. He has a good penalty-killing ability and a big shot. I don’t know when will he make his debut”, coach Marjamäki said.
Hännikäinen expected a tough game against Lokomotiv on Wednesday. The teams have played against each other already many times this season.
”It all starts with playing carefully with the puck. The passes need to go from stick to stick and defending the center needs to be there. They are a well defending team with big hunks with physical ability. We got to be a tough team to beat. As we get our offensive game running, we will be doing well.”