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Jokerit had won their most recent game, which was on Monday against Spartak in Moscow. The game was full of emotions as it all started with two fights and ended up in glorious victory by the Helsinki team. Lokomotiv on the oher hand had won three of their five previous games, but in the most recent one they suffered a narrow loss against Neftehimik by score 1–0.

Wednesday’s game was already the third match-up between Lokomotiv and Jokerit. The Helsinki team had won each of the earlier games allowing only one goal in their own net and scoring six in total themselves. Jokerit were missing Jordan Schroeder, who got injured in the game against Spartak.

Also the new player Vitali Menshikov didn’t make his Jokerit debut yet on Wednesday and Nicklas Jensen remained out due to personal reasons. Since the last game Lokomotiv had changed their head coach and now Igor Nikitin was behind the bench.

In the game the goals were hard to score as both goaltenders were playing at the top of their skills. The winner had to be found in overtime and there Alexander Yelesin scored the game-winning goal for Lokomotiv.

”This was a very high level, high quality game. In the second period we had some problems with playing. Although, it’s a good sign that we played our best period in the third one. We are able to play on a good level. It was a tight one-goal game. Both situations that did lead to goals annoy us. We’ll go on and on Friday is another big challenge”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki.

Scoreless first period

As Schroeder was absent, Veli-Matti Savinainen got the spot in the first line. The forward showed in the first shift that the coaching staff had made the right choice. He skated through Lokomotiv defence and gave a fiery shot towards Eddie Pasquale.

Even though Lokomotiv also got their game going, Jokerit still created the better chances. Markus Hännikäinen crossed well to the opponent’s net, but he got denied. Lokomotiv was also very close to score the first goal of the game as Lindbäck bounced the puck little bit recklessly. He afterall managed to get the puck under control.

The first penalty of the game was given to Alex Grant on an unfortunate tripping. The home team had a few chances on their power play. Yegor Korshkov lifted the puck wide and high. Also Artem Anisimov showed his talent on the special forces. Also the second consecutive penalty was close for Jokerit, when Henri Ikonen made Denis Barantsev collide with the end board.

Still captain Marko Anttila made the visitors play on man-disadvantage at the end of the period. Jokerit managed to defend until the intermission started with 0–0 on the scoreboard. Lindbäck played a big first period.

Birthday guy started scoring

The second period started with a bang for Jokerit as Brian O’Neill gave a world class pass to Teemu Turunen, who shot the puck behind Pasquale, giving the Helsinki team the lead. It was also kind of a birthday gift for the goal scorer, as it was Turunen’s 26th birthday on the gameday.

Once the gates had been opened, the scoring continued. Next it was the home team’s turn to be successful. Anisimov skated to the center of the offensive zone, received the puck and shot it into the net. Despite the allowed goal, Lindbäck kept doing great things at Jokerit net.

Half way through the game Jokerit got a power play. At first the visitors didn’t get much done on the special forces, but on the second half of the penalty Jokerit were able to test Pasquale’s reflexes couple of times. The period concluded with a penalty taken by Reid Boucher, but still Jokerit weren’t able to capitalize on power play.

Lindbäck was on fire

Maxim Shalunov had a good opportunity to bring home team the leading position, but once again the Swedishman at Jokerit net was in front of the puck. Also the third period started with a long period of time without a break as the game flew on. After seven minutes of non-stop play Pasquale made a stop during Jokerit momentum.

”I didn’t notice that. There you just try to get the puck possession so that the game doesn’t shift from side to side. We should’ve scored there”, Turunen thought.

Towards the end of the regular time Lokomotiv got a power play, which was close to end up in a goal. However, Lindbäck got his equipment on the puck’s way. The home team had most of the scoring chances, but also Jokerit stayed onboard in the game.

O’Neill took a reckless penalty for the last minutes, but Lokomotiv weren’t able to put the needed goal into the net. Again, Jokerit goaltender Lindbäck showed his value at his work post. The game clock ran out of time in regular time, which meant that the destiny of the extra point had to be decided on overtime.

Yelesin got to score the winning goal as Lindbäck came far away from his net and tried to poke the puck away off the opponent’s forwards, but was unsuccessful.

”Tough match as two good teams competed. We should’ve defended a bit better and avoid giving them turnovers. We knew what we were up against”, Jokerit forward Turunen mentioned.

Towards the next big challenge

Lokomotiv and Jokerit gave as tight show as was expected. Goaltenders at both ends gave out their best performance. In the end Lokomotiv were able to put the puck past Lindbäck, who was most likely the best player on the ice on Wednesday’s game.

Jokerit will continue their season on Friday, when they will compete against CSKA Moscow in their home rink in Hartwall Arena, Helsinki.

”For sure it will be at least as tough as tonight. We’ll recover and then put all in on Friday”, Turunen concluded.

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