Jokerit had won four of their five last games and also Dynamo had defeated two of their five most recent opponents. The Helsinki team has played mostly at their home ice in Hartwall Arena in the past days, so it was a bit unclear, what kind of a vibe they would get on at away ice. Captain Marko Anttila had to step out of the game due to an injury.
”We had five guys absent. Three of them were on a sick leave and two of them injured. Anttila had a small injury and hopefully it isn’t anything serious.”, Jokerit head coach Lauri Marjamäki said about his team captain’s situation.
Dynamo and Jokerit faced each other last time a week ago in Finland, and that time Jokerit were stronger in an obvious way as the final score was 5–1.
On Tuesday’s game the pace was high from the very beginning to the very end and it seemed that overtime was to decide the result, but Jokerit managed to score the winning goal less than two minutes before the final buzzer. The score was 3–2 in favor of the Helsinki team.
”We knew that it was a tough game ahead. We had been training for six days because of the game have been postponed. I got to be proud of this team as we managed to play a balanced 60 minutes. The opponent tied the game, but we found the way to score the game-winner. It tells a lot about this team.”, said head coach Marjamäki after the game.
The game started with some high-paced skating as both teams were trying to take the puck across the neutral zone with some straight attacks. Jokerit got the best scoring chance of the first minutes, when Jordan Schroeder turned the puck to the net, but his linemates couldn’t quite steer it into the net behind Ivan Bocharov.
Home team’s goaltender had to make a few big saves as the first period went on, when Jokerit forwards made their best in order to get the pressure to the net. Especially Tommi Laakso seemed to get attention from Dynamo defence.
Also Anders Lindbäck between Jokerit pipes had his duties on the first 20 minutes, but the home team couldn’t create that dangerous chances around the Swedishman’s work post. Jokerit got their power play opportunity ,when Vyacheslav Voynov was sent to the penalty box. Hannes Björninen twice crossed strongly to the net, but otherwise Dynamo were able to survive with their physical play in their own zone.
The first period ended with some hassle at Dynamo net, but still neither of the teams were able to get themselves on to the scoreboard.
It wasn’t too long into the second period, when Eric O’Dell was already sent to serve a minor penalty – giving Jokerit their second man-advantage of the game. The formation centered by Björninen started the power play as they were playing fluently in the first attempt. If on the first power play the second formation got the better chances, it was this time also the second line to be more creative. However, the shots lacked, when the players shifted the puck from one to another.
Almost right after the teams were back on full strenght did Jokerit goaltender Lindbäck cover the puck outside of the goaltender’s zone and that caused a penalty. Nicklas Jensen went to serve his two minutes. The home was efficient on their first powr play as Anton Wedin defeated Lindbäck from the netfront. His fellow-countryman Andre Petersson offered a juicy pass in the situation.
Jokerit didn’t leave hanging, but started to chase the score right after falling behind. Brian O’Neill passed nicely to Kalle Kossila, who had a great opportunity to get the puck behind Bocharov, but his finishing was just barely unsuccessful. The visitors also got another power play and after a lot of trying and effort Jensen put it in and made the game tied again.
The last minutes of the second period were full of brawling and disagreement. Dynamo forward Rob Klinkhammer was already about to get a penalty on a cross-checking on David Sklenicka, but as he lost his temper a little bit did Vitali Menshikov have to calm his opponent down with some physicality. As a result Jokerit got the chance to play their fourth power play of the game. The opportunity shrunk a bit too early as Schroeder took Vadim Shipachyov down by accident.
”Especially, when the opponent has such good power play, we shouldn’t give them that many opportunities. Usually they’ll score, when given enough room for that. In the second period it was a bit tough to catch the rhythm due to the penalties. If somebody had to sit out a bit longer, they just had to keep their mind on th game and stay alert. Usually, when it gets closer to the playoffs, there won’t be this many penalties.”, Kossila wondered.
John Norman was sent to the penalty box in the beginning of the third period, giving Dynamo another chance to take the lead in the game that had been pretty even for a while. Dynamo weren’t able to capitalize on their man-advantage and Sklenicka, who had been pretty furious with his hits on the second half of the game, almost took another penalty, but the referees didn’t whistle.
Like to picture the high-paced game, there was a six-minute period within the third period, when there were no breaks at all. The puck was moving up and down the ice as the teams were trying to find the way to take the grip on the two points. Suddenly a fiery shot was sent from the blue line towards Bocharov and defenceman Otto Leskinen got to celebrate the leading goal.
It wasn’t again too much time before the puck was in the net. This time Jokerit goaltender Lindbäck got defeated in front of the scoring leader of KHL as Shipachyov gave a master-class pass to Oscar Lindberg, who put the puck in to make it 2–2.
Just before the regular time came to an end was Björninen in the right place at the right time. Bocharov gave a rebound on O’Neill’s shot and Björninen was there to swing the puck in. The visitors fought the last minute and Lindbäck even got chances to try to score an empty-netter. The victory came for Jokerit a bit out of nowhere, but no question – they’ll accept it.
Both teams had their shots to take the points from the game and both goaltenders were at the top of their game, which made the margins so narrow. Only Björninen’s timing, when the game was on the line was the little detail that gave Jokerit the win.
”It as a tough battle of the top teams. It could’ve turned for anybody. Both scored on power play and the chances were even. Our goaltending was this much better tonight. We had been practicing well and had some practice games there too, but maybe the lack of real games was seen in the first 10 minutes.”, thought Jokerit forward Kossila.
As a lot of games are being postponed, the teams and the players are forced to stay in their own facilities and keep themselves ready for the next possible event.
”Well, we just need to keep practicing well. We got a good team up here and we get good quality practice. So that’s what it is. If you don’t train as hard as you can, you won’t be able to play as hard as you can and it’s the same for every team.”, Kossila concluded.