Ilves was not at its best in Kuopio. As a result, KalPa won the match 3-2 and handed Ilves first loss of the year. Eetu Mäkiniemi made 24 saves and Ilves’ goals were scored by Teemu Lepaus and Ville Meskanen.
Challenging first period
Ilves’ Saturday evening started with a sort of a struggle. KalPa got a great start as they scored first goal at 1:38. Tuomas Vartiainen ended a quick counterattack with a wrist shot past Eetu Mäkiniemi’s glove. A few minutes later, Eetu Päkkilä got minor penalty but Ilves’ penalty kill unit was pretty much flawless.
The home team was able to create pressure towards Ilves’ net. Mäkiniemi made a couple important saves and marked 11 saves in total in the first period. After the first ten minutes, Ilves started to wake up and KalPa’s defense was struggling. At 12:32 Ilves got their first powerplay opportunity. The powerplay was not at its best, though.
Ilves’ first line pretty much dominated the last few minutes of the period but did not manage to score. Teams headed to intermission with the momentum slightly favouring Ilves.
Another difficult period
At 24:51 Ilves was given a cold shower when KalPa doubled its lead. Ilves’ goal was displaced but the goal was a good one after a video review. Ilves was still struggling at finding its ‘own-game.’ On the other hand, KalPa did a good job at keeping Ilves away from puck and that led to a few scoring chances. At this point it was clear that Ilves needed to do better if they wish to get points from Kuopio.
At 36:23 Ilves got their second powerplay opportunity of the evening, but Liiga’s most effective powerplay did not capitalize. Overall, the second period was pretty even and either team did not get plenty of scoring opportunities. Both Mäkiniemi and Eero Kilpeläinen made six saves in the second period.
KalPa got saved by the bell
The start of the third period looked promising as Ilves seemed to find its typical fast-paced hockey. As a result, KalPa was kind of forced to take a penalty and Teemu Lepaus scored his fifth of the season on powerplay. The goal was assisted by Matias Maccelli and Joose Antonen. After the goal, especially Ilves’ second unit started to control the puck and got a few decent scoring opportunities. Panu Mieho was also worth the mention because he played aggressively and worked hard, as always. Mieho got a few extra shifts as a part of the first unit with Eemeli Suomi and Matias Myttynen.
However, at 53:53, KalPa scored its third goal of the evening and extended the lead. Ilves recovered quickly and continued chasing as Myttynen found Ville Meskanen all alone next to the back post at 56:10. Meskanen faced nearly an empty net and had an easy job finishing the attack. Moments later Suomi had a similar opportunity but KalPa’s defense managed to prevent the equalizer.
Ilves played the last two minutes without a goalie. Despite a good pressure on KalPa’s end, there was no goals on sight meaning that Ilves headed home with a bitter 3-2 defeat on their back.