On their last games both teams had suffered a tough loss as Jokerit was defeated by CSKA Moscow and Lokomotiv fell short against Traktor. Veli-Matti Savinainen scored twice in the last game for the Helsinki team and Eddie Pasquale was in shape in Lokomotiv’s goal against Traktor.
Vitali Menshikov and Otto Leskinen had given space in the Jokerit line-up for David Sklenicka, who was a healthy scratch for last game and for Philip Holm, who returned from an injury.
The game was played with small margins and it was just near the end of the regular time, when Jokerit were able to capitalize the game-winning goal. Tight defences and goaltending played a big part in a game that ended 2–0 in favor of home team Jokerit.
”It was a very tight game. It was positive that we managed to improve our game in the second and third period. We were pretty good in the last 40 minutes. In the first period we were wondering and trying to see, what would happen. This was a tough week in general with narrow margin games and overtime losses. Today we turned it into a victory. Tomorrow we take a day off and then start focusing towards the next game”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki after the game.
Jokerit started the game well and were able to create some organized attacks in the offensive zone. A father of a newborn baby, Nicklas Jensen was back in the action and made his presence known. Neither Lokomotiv were left in the station, so to speak. Also the visitors got their skating going right from the get-go.
Lokomotiv showed some extraordinary moves in a few shifts as Danil Misyul, who was marked as seventh defenceman, played as a center for some time. Reid Boucher used his shot frequently, but Janne Juvonen at Jokerit net was playing well. Brian O’Neill had to leave the game due to an injury.
As known, these two teams tend to play defensive-minded game, which was the case also in the first period. Both teams preferred stable puck-control and winning the one-on-ones became clearly important. Lokomotiv were able to deliver the puck once behind Juvonen, but the referees called the goal off after a long review.
Neither of the teams created too many scoring chances. Lokomotiv got to test Juvonen a few more times than what Jokerit went on Pasquale’s net.
Tight defensive game carried on in the first minutes of the second period. Jokerit got their first power play opportunity as Pavel Kraskovsky was sent to the penalty box for hooking. Jokerit played actively on man-advantage and the fact that Holm had returned to the line-up truly showed in the blueline. Artem Anisimov also got a good chance, when playing short-handed.
Jokerit were able to create some momentum as a result of their power play. That caused some pressure in Lokomotiv zone and the visitors were forced to take another minor penalty. The home team was again eager to shoot, but Pasquale was strong at his work post.
When the game reached its halfway, there was a bit more calm period in the game. Sklenicka’s hip check in the neutral zone got the crowd in Hartwall Arena cheering. Also Alex Grant showed his tackling skills later in the period.
When the second period was about to end, Lokomotiv got a few good scoring chances and Juvonen was forced to make a couple of big saves in order to keep the score 0–0. Petteri Lindbohm took a penalty and gave Lokomotiv their first power play in the turn of second and third period.
The third period was much alike the two earlier ones. Both team defended the center of their own zone well and didn’t let the opponent’s forwards near he net. The puck went up and down the ice and neither of the teams seemed to have a complete control of the situation.
After a good possession by Jokerit defenceman Grant was able to put on the first goal of the night and put the puck pass Pasquale. It was a big goal, as there was less than half of the period left in the third one. Iiro Pakarinen took a penalty shortly after the goal and made the home team to fight through a man-disadvantage.
Lokomotiv put the pressure to Juvonen's net for the last couple of minutes, but the Swedishman got the pucks away in cooperation with Jokerit defence. Julius Junttila scored an empty-netter to secure Jokerit win in the game.
In a tight match-up Jokerit was resilient and were able to stay in tied score as Lokomotiv were shooting the puck and having their momentum. Juvonen stood at the net heroically and was one of the reasons Jokerit left the ice as winners.
”I think there were two well-defencing teams and the goaltenders played very well. We have had good goaltending for a long while now. Lindbäck has been good and now also Juvonen has showed some greatness. Our first period wasn’t the best, but it’s good to see that the team can play consistently”, thought Jesse Joensuu in front of the media.
Jokerit will play their next game against Vityaz on Wednesday on the away ice. Joensuu wondered, why the Helsinki team has had such tight match-ups recently.
”Also the opponent have been doing well, so we have faced good teams. We are leading the Western conference, so we need to be satisfied in that our performance hasn’t shifted too much. I was enjoying a lot today. Lokomotiv is a good team and these aren’t each matches. Each period counts. I think it’s also due to the previous games, but I again feel like belonging to this league. It’s been good to create on those experiences”, the forward mentioned.