Jokerit had some changes in their line-up as Alex Grant, Hannes Björninen, Jesse Joensuu and Julius Junttila were absent due to illness. Andrei Loktionov was still out of the line-up for Spartak after being injured in the first game against Jokerit. The second match-up could’ve been remembered by the few fights that happened.
The game was overall pretty even, but even both teams and their goaltenders played a good game, still Spartak’s netminder Andrei Skovronsky outplayed everybody in Jokerit team. The final score was 2–0 in favor of Spartak.
”It was a tough and tight game. I think that he was the man of match today. I am satisfied that we put all in, but it’s difficult, if you can’t score”, Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki thought after the game.
The first moments of the game were spent in an energetic coast-to-coast fashion. Each team was able to create some potential chances and the goaltenders didn’t have to stand alone at their working posts. Anders Lindbäck returned to Jokerit net after being aside for a few games. Niklas Friman, who played exceptionally as a forward, was doing a good job at the netfront in the offensive zone.
Jokerit had to take a few guys from the second highest level of Finnish hockey to the line-up, but at least forward Tommi Laakso showed some good spirit. He managed to force Spartak to take their first penalty in the game. The Helsinki team got some sequence to work, but didn’t get on the scoreboard. That ended up being the case for the evening in general.
”It was a high-paced battling game and we were strongly in it, so the game was tight in that sense. The opponent was more efficient and their goaltender was very good”, said Laakso, who played his first KHL game.
Most of the period was rough battling in the neutral zone as neither of the teams was willing to fall back in the game. Ivan Drozdov and Emil Pettersson created the best scoring opportunity in the period after Petteri Lindbohm lost the puck-possession in Jokerit zone. Lindbäck took a big save to take care of the puck.
The first period concluded after a long time of non-stop play as the puck went up and down the ice for six minutes without referees whistle being heard.
Jokerit got their second opportunity on power play in the first minutes of the second period. The visitors were able to keep the momentum in Spartak zone, but Skovronsky got to stay relaxed at the home teams net. He played his third KHL game and it was the first full match for him. David Sklenicka took a minor penalty during Jokerit man-advantage and forced his team to play a moment of penalty-killng.
Jokerit were just about to get back to full strenght, when Sergei Shirokov blasted a wrister into the net from the point. He received a smooth pass from defenceman Tim Heed from the blue line and Lindbäck couldn’t do anything to deny the goal. Brian O’Neill got into a breakway in the next shift, but was unsuccessful.
After the game had seen its half way point, Jokerit got some good momentum towards Skovronsky’s net, but Iiro Pakarinen and few others had to realise that the puck wasn’t going in that time. If Spartak had to serve a penalty for playing with too many players, were Jokerit about to end up in the same situation a bit later. The Helsinki team had to survive through a couple of huge chances that Spartak got, before the intermission came.
Jokerit were determined to tie the game and the team showed from the first minutes that it was willing to do the work required to score. Nicklas Jensen almost capitalized on a unsuccessful pass by Spartak player. A foolish penalty taken by Laakso in the offensive zone put Jokerit on man-disadvantage for a couple of minutes and that backfired big time as Danila Kvartalnov shot Spartak two goals ahead. He played 107 goals without a goal in KHL and scored his first one in the 108th.
”There were moments of good hockey, but also maybe because of excitement and enthusiasm I took the penalty in the third period. We had already practically won the puck in that forecheck. The pace of the game was fast. Our game stayed together and everybody worked hard. We had many chances to score. I got to give everybody credit for their game face”, Laakso mentioned.
Jokerit were very close to tie the game as the puck flew close to the net, but each time it either got stopped or went just wide. Once the puck hit the crossbar behind Skovronsky. The situation seemed to look a bit desperate for Jokerit, but the team pushed the game to the offensive zone and didn’t give up. A power play came and gave Jokerit a great chance to get closer – however, nothing happened.
The pressure stayed on Spartak zone until the final buzzer, but still the Helsinki team was unable to get the past Skovronsky. Coach Marjamäki pulled Lindbäck to the bench a few minutes befofe full time, but the sensational Spartak goaltender kept his net clean.
The biggest star of the game was without a doubt Spartak goaltender Skovronsky, who played his first full KHL game. Jokerit were able to create the needed chances, but the puck just didn’t go in. Forward Laakso wasn’t sure, what his near future looks like.
”Of course I hope to get more games here. I am not sure yet, if I play on Sunday. We’ll see, if we get the scratched guys back in. I’ll know by tomorrow or at least Sunday morning”, the forward said.
Jokerit will continue their season in an away match on Sunday, when they play against Dinamo in Minsk.
”I agree that we have played many games with tight schedule. I live in the present day and I worry a bit about our lineup. We’ll go with full line-up to Minsk and take the rest as the national team break comes”, head coach Marjamäki pointed out.