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Jokerit got to start their four-game week at home ice as they faced Amur in Finland’s independence day match in Hartwall Arena. The Helsinki team had lost their most recent game against SKA in St. Petersburg, but still Jokerit had managed to take at least some points out of four of their five previous games.

The visitor Amur had been flying from victory to another lately as they had beated four of their five latest opponents. During those matches they had allowed only two goals and their goaltending had been superb with three shutouts.

On Monday the teams competed in their second game between each other. Amur had won in their home rink 2–1 after a series of shootouts.

A short-margin hockey kind of game was on also on Monday and even though Jokerit worked hard and got their chances, Amur managed to defend tightly. Jokerit got the points by the goals of two defencemen and the end result was 2–0 for the home team.

”During the first ten minutes we saw that why Amur had won three of their most recent games. We faced a well-skating team. On the second half of the first period and after that we took control and played disciplined and stable game taking only one penalty”, Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki told after the game.

Jokerit got the control to the game

After a few shifts or cautious hockey Jokerit were forced to play short-handed. The home team handled the situation well, even thouhg Amur showed that they had gained some confidence from the victories that they had in previous games.

Both teams defended the center of their zone pretty tightly, so the opponent couldn’t cross to the net. Therefore most of the shots were taken from a distance, which helped the work of the goaltenders in the first period. An unsuccessful pass by Tommi Kivistö in Jokerit own zone was about to open a good chance for Amur, but they couldn’t reach the put in time.

Also Jokerit got their chance on special forces, but despite the good possession and a couple of chances the home team wasn’t able to get the puck past Amur goaltender Patrik Bartosak. The most unfortunate event happened, when Brian O’Neill skated to the Amur net and collided with Bartosak with high speed. Jokerit forward’s elbow hit the Czech goalie to the head, but thankfully Bartosak didn’t injure himself.

In the eventful first period Jokerit managed to open scoring in the game. Alex Grant skated along the blue line and saw an opportunity to send the puck towards the net. Hannes Björninen created a good screen in front of Bartosak. Amur showed some undisciplined actions taking a few minor penalties before the first intermssion.

Defensively tight

Jokerit took the puck-control in the first minutes of the second period as Amur wanted to trap the game in the neutral zone. Getting into the net was still rather difficult for both sides and the puck went loose a couple of times – causing icings.

Bartosak was the best player of the visitors as he kept the puck away from the net, keeping the numbers tight. Jokerit fourth line had a good shift in the offensive zone and especially Veli-Matti Savinainen got a couple of chances to increase the lead for the Helsinki team.

As the period went on, the game became a bit static. A lot of time was spent in a way that the teams held the puck in their defensive zone, trying to make some plays. The best opportunity opened for Jokerit as they got a four against one attack. Markus Hännikäinen decided to shoot the puck himself and the puck found its way to Bartosak’s lap.

The second period ended after a few hassles in front of the Amur net. Jokerit captain Marko Anttila seemed to always be there, when the emotions heated up, but still nothing dramatic happened as a result of them.

”We were patient and managed to do our thing. We trusted that it will bring the result. Juvonen was great at the net and that’s what we need. It has always been that way and goaltenders give us the opportunity to win”, thought Björninen about the key points that lead to victory.

Juvonen kept his net clean

If Amur played a bit more carefully in the second period, then in the third one the visitors started to forecheck higher and tried to push Jokerit out of their comfort zone. Still Jokerit were able to create some chances and for example Kalle Kossila hit the post of Amur goal with his heavy shot.

Bartosak had a lot of work during the whole game and also in the third period the Czech goaltender had to stop various shots and situations that Jokerit created. Also Janne Juvonen at Jokerit net had to stay aware and he did a good job during the game preventing the puck from going into goal.

”Amur keeps the center tight and a lot of players there. They keep the game on the outside and that way try to get the wins. Patience was important for us”, Björninen mentioned.

In the deciding moments of the game Amur didn’t get that many chances towards Jokerit net and Juvonen got to stay pretty calm at his work station. Even though Amur managed to keep their opponent once again in a low number of goals, they still ended up losing.

Jokerit found the way to win

It had been a while since Amur allowed more than two goals in a single hockey game. Such didn’t happen at Hartwall Arena either, because Jokerit scored only twice. Otto Leskinen put Jokerit two goals up and secured the points for the home team.

Jokerit will continue their season on Wednesday. They will compete against Severstal on the first of their three away games this week.

”We were able to also create offensive game and stay on the puck. We need that work in the future as well. We have a tough week ahead, four games in total before the off week with the international games. We will give our everything to every game this week”, Björninen promised

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