Ilves bounced back and won the latter of back-to-back games in Oulu and snapped Kärpät’s eight game win streak. Eetu Mäkiniemi had a great game as he stopped 35 shots and Eemeli Suomi collected two assists.
Ilves started the game strong as they played fast-paced and aggressive hockey. A couple of decent scoring chances were built quickly and the best one was granted to Joona Ikonen. Forward was alone facing Kärpät’s goalie Patrik Rybar but Ikonen’s shot from point blank range went straight towards Rybar.
After the first half of the first period, Ilves added pressure and their rather physical game started to annoy Kärpät’s players. Ilves’ first line was especially on top of its game and they were close to open the scoring in Oulu. Eemeli Suomi tested Rybar’s reflexes but the goalie stood tall. Kärpät managed to put the puck behind Eetu Mäkinemi seven minutes before the intermission, though. The goal was reviewed, and it was clearly deflected in with a stick blade above the crossbar. No goal, that is.
Although both goalies made ten saves and there were no goals scored, it was quite safe to say that first period was controlled by Ilves.
Another great period
At 23.09 Ilves got their first powerplay opportunity and a minute later, it turned into a 5 on 3 powerplay. At 24.19 Panu Mieho scored Ilves’ first goal of the game. Eemeli Suomi passed to Mieho, who had plenty of time in front of Rybar. Forward’s ninth goal of the season was a well-deserved one.
Kärpät tied the game at 28.28. Mäkiniemi had no chance stopping Ludwig Byström’s hard wrist shot. Ilves, however, took the momentum and lead back immediately as Ville Meskanen scored his 14th goal of the season only 35 seconds later. Suomi passed a spectacular pass to Anssi Salmela, who had suddenly skated from blueline next to Kärpät’s goal. Rybar somehow stretched his pad and saved Salmela’s attempt but Meskanen got the rebound. 1-2 for Ilves at this point.
Another good period by Ilves got somewhat mixed feelings about five minutes before second intermission. First, Mieho got a minor for interference and seconds later Aleksi Saarela got a game misconduct for slashing. For Ilves that meant nearly two minutes of 3 on 5 penalty kill plus shorthanded the remaining three minutes of Saarela’s major penalty. Ilves’ penalty kill unit blocked numerous shots and managed to neutralize Kärpät’s powerplay completely! Because of great defensive play of Ilves, they had the lead by one goal after 40 minutes of hockey.
Ilves holds on and gets a big victory in Oulu
Third period had an unpleasant start for Ilves because Suomi got a 2+10 minute penalty for checking to the head. Ilves’ penalty kill was once again at its best, but Suomi had to sit in the penalty box for half of the period. That was not the only penalty given in the third period but neither team managed to capitalize their powerplay opportunity.
Ilves defended well and Mäkiniemi took care of the rest. The ‘famous’ big three points headed to Tampere as Ilves hold on the lead and won 1-2. At the same time, Ilves snapped Kärpät’s eight game win streak. The way they did it was something that gives high hopes heading towards the final stretch of regular season.