Ilves played against Lukko in the first game of the quarterfinals today. Three wins in this series guarantees a place in the next round, and Lukko took their first with the score of 5–3. Ilves played better and better as the game went on and almost came from behind to win the game, but the opponent was stronger today.
The teams were sizing each other up in the first minutes. Both had some exciting scoring attempts, and Ilves looked good to go after the difficult KooKoo series. Lukko, the biggest favorite to win the cup, was close to scoring with a shot to the post around five minutes in. Ilves counterattacked with a few good shots, but no goals yet.
Lukko opened the scoring at 7:33. Lukas Klok was the goal scorer: Eetu Koivistoinen shot the puck, it bounced off Klok and into the net. Ilves continued devising good strategies after the goal, and they were especially good at stealing the puck from Lukko and creating further chances that way.
However, Lukko is a strong opponent, and they showed it by scoring again at 13:30. Ilves was slow at the defense and Jonne Tammela put another past Mäkiniemi, 2–0. Lukko was in control for the rest of the period.
Ilves gets on the scoreboard
Ilves started the second period on the penalty kill. Lukko didn’t give any mercy and scored straight away. Goal scorer was Vili Saarijärvi at 20:31. Ilves didn’t give up and tried to create more chances, but the task was a difficult one.
Ville Meskanen brought Ilves back into the game! A strong shot found the back of the net, and, finally, Ilves was on the scoreboard. The score was 3–1, and half of the game was still to be played. Ilves was fired up after the goal, but another unfortunate penalty ended the momentum. Mäkiniemi made some crucial saves, and Lukko could not extend the lead.
Maccelli’s line showed off their passing play a minute before the period ended, but the final shot went past the net. Lukko was still in the lead after two periods, but the second was a better showing for Ilves.
Strong third period is not enough
Ilves struggled early with Lukko’s long attacks and yet another penalty. Luckily Ilves’ penalty kill was top notch, and they held Lukko scoreless. At one point Ilves was battling for the puck behind the Lukko net. Lukko left Eetu Päkkilä completely alone in front of their net, Nalli’s quick pass found him, and suddenly the score was 3–2!
Ilves was determined after the second goal. And soon, Tuomas Salmela scored in the middle of a rather hectic situation at Lukko’s net. The score was now even, 3–3. Mäkiniemi made a few great saves in the other end, and the game was at its most exciting moments.
But Ilves’ joy was short-lived: five minutes left and Aleksi Saarela took Lukko back into the lead, 4–3. Even though Ilves pulled their goalie and tried everything, Lukko sealed the victory with a goal into the empty net and won the first match of the series 5–3. Ilves has a chance to tie the series in the next game tomorrow.