Both CSKA and Jokerit had been playing with varying effort lately as neither team had been able to stabilize their game to win consecutive games. Especially Jokerit had been struggling with scoring.
CSKA and Jokerit were both at 58 points before Thursday’s match. The result would decide, which team gets a top thre spot in the western conference for the New Year’s turn.
The game happened to be a very even one as both teams got their scoring chances in the high-paced action. Goaltenders showed their best and the narrow margins became favorful for Jokerit with the score 3–2.
”The team was well prepared and we played a good first period. We scored in the beginning of the second period, but the rest of the period we were struggling. We were able to reset on the second intermission and played strong third period. I am very happy with the team effort and two points”, said Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki and added that CSKA is a good offensive-minded team and that Jokerit were able to strike back especially in the first and the third period.
Jokerit pushed the pressure to th offensive zone for the first few minutes, but CSKA made it clear that they also were ready to do the effort to cross the neutral zone, when given the chance. The clock ticked for almost seven minutes before the first break came.
The pace of skating was huge for both teams and the turnovers happened as quickly as possible. Jokerit got a big opportunity to score the opening goal, when Alex Grant and Iiro Pakarinen put up a beautiful sequence to set up the spot for Veli-Matti Savinainen. Adam Reideborn managed to deny at CSKA net.
There was absolutely no time to stop and second-guess on the ice in the first period as every little mistake was noticed by the opponent. When pushed to the corners, the space was very limited and it seemed to be very difficult to get the puck into the net. Jesse Joensuu tried to get some action in the netfront, but happened to just push Reideborn over.
Anders Lindbäck didn’t have to take part in the game for a long time as CSKA couldn’t deliver the puck towards him. On the contrary, Jokerit capitalized on one of their turnovers, when Jordan Schroeder scored. Being cold and alone at his workpost, it became hard for Jokerit goaltender Lindbäck to stay focused and when the defence let CSKA forwards to do zigzag through the offensive zone, was Lindbäck left without a chance, when Vladislav Kamenev finished a skilled sequence and tied the goal before the first intermission.
The first period ended with some physicality and that boosted the second period to start with a blast. Jokerit defenceman Grant delivered the puck to the net and Pakarinen was there to steer it into the net, ending his two months long period without a goal. The goal was his 10th of the season. Right after taking the lead the Helsinki team got the first opportunity on special forces.
”It sure felt good. It had been a while, even though I hadn’t thought of it much. I’ve been focusing on working hard and defending. I guess the puck bounced off my back, but it counts. At some point I started to think about it too much and that’s how you definitely don’t get results. On those times you need to focus on doing the other little details correctly.”, Pakarinen knew.
The power play didn’t last that long, when Joakim Nordström got into breakaway. Philip Holm had to interfere and therefore cause a penalty shot for CSKA. The Swedishman topped the puck to the net and once again made it a tied hockey game. Jokerit weren’t able to capitalize on the reminder of the power play.
The home team got some good momentum towards Jokerit net as the second period went onwards. CSKA sticked to the puck and got their skating going in the offense. Jokerit focused on defending the center and preventing the opponent from getting into good shooting sector.
The physical aspect of the game, which did rise in the last minutes of the first period came back in the second period. Kamenev skated to Jokerit net and slashed Lindbäck’s hands. As aftermath Sergei Plotnikov and Petteri Lindbohm dropped their gloves and had a fight. The period concluded with both teams spending time in the penalty box, and CSKA even got some time on two-man advantage, but couldn’t capitalize.
Jokerit got some bad news in the beginning of the third period, when Teemu Turunen collided with Lucas Wallmark in the neutral zone and seemed to hurt his leg badly. He went straight to the bench and was seemingly in pain, when he tried to get himself back on track.
CSKA got their forechecking higher in the third period, which caused some troubles for the visitors in their own zone. The few chances that Jokerit got in the opening minutes of the period did Reideborn catch without difficulties.
Jokerit received a great opportunity to score the game-winning goal near the end of the third period as CSKA was given a minor penalty due to delaying the game. The Helsinki team’s power play lacked Nicklas Jensen, who didn’t come to the ice after the second intermission. When the number one sniper was out, other had to step up. This time it was Turunen, who had some rough moments earlier, to send a fiery wrister to the net behind Reideborn.
”His shot on the power play was great. In the end we threw our bodies on the puck’s way and blocked a lot of shots. Lindbäck was great at the net and we showed some heart out there. CSKA didn’t get too many shots to the net.”, Pakarinen mentioned.
CSKA tried to get the score tied playing without the goaltender. For the two last minutes the home team tried to pressure as they just could, but Jokerit kept their defence tight and secure the points from the last game of the year 2021.
”We played well. We started nicely and scored, got our things going. I think that was important for us. In the second period a bit of a ditch came, but we were able to fight back and play our game in the third period.”, thought Jokerit forward Pakarinen after the game.
CSKA and Jokerit gave an entertaining and exciting match-up in Moscow just before New Year’s. Jokerit Forward Turunen became the hero with his game-winning goal. On the last minutes Jokerit players blocked the shots and defended their own zone with full hearts.
Thursday’s game was the last one for both teams in the year 2021. With the two points received in the game Jokerit got a little gap to CSKA in the standings of the western conference in the KHL.
”Our season has been pretty good so far. As I look deeper into it, we started very well and won a lot fo games. We had some kind of a streak there too, but then some difficulties came up. We did rise from there, even though in the past couple of weeks we’ve been struggling with our own game. The last few games have been good again.”, Pakarinen concluded.