Jokerit had won the first match-up, but SKA tied the wins in the second attempt. Each team had won at their home ice, so that history spoke for SKA in this case.
Both SKA and Jokerit had won three of their five most recent games and their difference in points was three points, Jokerit leading the western conference and SKA being fifth.
SKA were in the lead for most of the time in the game and Jokerit were there to chace the result. Goaltending was brilliant at both ends of the rink, but home team’s effort was a bit better in that sense. The end result was 3–1.
“The first period was lousy by us. Sometimes we came by bus, sometimes by a metro. It is tough to find the right rhythm, if you take six penalty minutes in the first period. The two following periods we were clearly a better team on the ice, but we couldn’t capitalize. The opponent scored efficiently. Today we playeed 40 minutes well, but we should be able to do full 60 minutes.”, thought Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki after the game.
Jokerit got the first penalty of the game only after a few shifts, when Petteri Lindbohm tried to lift Andrei Kuzmenko’s stick, but ended up hitting the SKA forward’s face with his own stick. The home team got the possession straight to the offensive zone and shots were fired towards Janne Juvonen. However, SKA didn’t get an early goal to start with. The difficulties didn’t end for Jokerit as Brian O’Neill was sent to the penalty box right after Lindbohm had served his own minor penalty.
SKA retained the puck-possession even after the teams played with full strenght again, but the game itself seemed to be a bit nervous. In a while Anton Burdasov didn’t show a bit of nervousness as he shot a heavy shot, which beated Juvonen at Jokerit net and gave the home team 1–0 lead.
It was a long time before Jokerit got their first official shot against SKA goaltender Lars Johansson. The first period was overall controlled by the home team, even though the visitors also got something going on in the last few minutes before the first intermission. Still, the period ended with SKA playing on man-advantage once again.
In the start of the second period it was Jokerit turn to handle the puck. Evgeny Timkin’s penalty was there to help the visitors to get their offensive game going. The Helsinki team managed to tie the game, when Otto Leskinen took the puck into the zone and crossed to the net. The puck didn’t go straight in, but Julius Junttila was the first player there to scoop it in.
The joy didn’t last too long for Jokerit before SKA took the lead again. Danila Moiseyev was the player to put the puck behind Juvonen. The Helsinki team didn’t put their heads down once falling back. They showed some character, when SKA came intensively to the net, causing a bit of a hassle.
As Jokerit were trying to get the score to even, they got a a couple of power plays to make it happen. Apart from a few heavy shots Jokerit didn’t get traffic at the net — let alone puck into the net. Johansson did a good job at his work post.
A few moments before the second period closing in, did Nicklas Jensen hit the crossbar of SKA net with his shot. Still, the home team got to start the third period in the lead.
Jokerit started their chase with sold puck management and once they had to defend, they did it well and were able to turn the pucks deep quite efficiently. SKA had to battle a lot in the corners in order to get things done in the offense.
SKA chose to put a trap formation in the neutral zone as Jokerit got to take the puck from their own zone pretty freely. On the other hand SKA didn’t have problems to sweep the puck off once given the opportunity. Johansson took the saves he had to.
The home team showed their fighting spiring blocking many shots that Jokerit players sent towards the goal. It was clear that SKA had to do a lot of work in order to get the result that they held on to out of the game.
After a long and determined period of defensive battle, Kuzmenko escaped from the Jokerit players and put a fiery wrister into Jokerit net making the score 3–1 in favor of SKA. Junttila took a minor penalty and made the comeback impossible for the Helsinki team.
“It was great to play as always in these top games. Especially on Friday night it was very nice. I just need to play the game and it will bring the good things. The fact that we loss sure bothers us. We played well well in the third, but also in the second period. We didn’t change anything. We believed that we could’ve scored, but it just didn’t come.”, said Leskinen about the game.
Jokerit were left behind pretty early in the game and even they managed to tie the score once, SKA were able to keep the focus and take the points out of the Friday’s high quality game.
The Helsinki team will continue their games on Monday at the home rink, when they will compete against Amur.
“Now we recover, analyze the game and start preparing for Monday. It is great to come back in front of our home crowd to change our course immidiately.”, Leskinen concluded.