Longest Game In KHL History
Players had no reason to blame coaches for limiting their playing time. CSKA’s Mat Robinson skated a game-high 54:12. Meanwhile, Sam Lepisto outpaced all Jokerit skaters with 52:19.
Jokerit Discards CSKA Home Advantage
Despite almost double the number of shots on goal and CSKA’s decisive territorial domination, the attack of the guests looked more interesting and vivid. CSKA played routinely, without a spark, except for Kirill Kaprizov. He not only scored his first goal in 17 games, he nearly had a second in overtime.
Jokerit started the game knowing that a loss would finish their season. They also knew that in five games in Moscow this post-season, opponents had yet to record a goal. The possibility that this could be the end of their playoff run was quite real.
Nevertheless, the team decided to snap that scoreless sequence against all odds. Jokerit managed to do it in less than four minutes. After Niklas Jensen’s shot rebounded off the boards, Brian O’Neill happened to be on the spot to slot home the puck and give his team a lead.
However, it didn’t last long. Kaprizov tied the game with a strong backhand shot.
The Score Remained Tied
In the second period, Jokerit started playing faster, looking to establish a lead that could give the team a chance to bring this playoff series back to Helsinki.
In the 29th minute, there was a feeling that it finally happened. Lepisto fed the young prodigy Eeli Tolvanen. He beat Ilya Sorokin with his wrister from a face-off spot. CSKA contested the call as a Jokerit player went in offside. After a video review, referees confirmed the offside and the score remained tied at the second intermission.
In the third period, the home team looked better but Jokerit defence fought bravely. Nine blocked shots frustrated CSKA. Ramo stood on his head to protect the Jokerit net and the game went on to overtime.
The overtime periods were evenly-matched, with both sides playing cautiously and looking for their opponent to make a mistake of the opponent. Jokerit came close to finishing the game when Lepisto’s shot hit the post after Sorokin lost his stick.
At the other end, CKSA’s best opportunity came late in the first period of overtime, on a power play.
Shortly after the game moved into record-breaking benchmark, Roman Lyubimov thought he had won it – and the series – for CSKA when he stuffed the puck home from a close range. The goal came after a rush by Geoff Platt left Ramo sprawling across the crease without his helmet. Jokerit immediately appealed, and the video confirmed a foul on the Finnish goalie.
Early in the fourth period of overtime, this game beat the record of the 2014 match-up between Lev Prague and Donbass Donetsk (two teams no longer in the KHL). The Ukrainian team won that game after 126:14 of play action. Jokerit defenseman Petteri Wirtanen played in that game too, as a part of Donbass Donetsk.
Going Home With a Win
Finally at 1:34 am Moscow time, Mika Niemi had the final say.
— КХЛ (@khl) March 23, 2018
He finally put an end to the game in the 142nd minute of play. The goal came after Sami Lepisto’s feed, and he beat CSKA’s Ilya Sorokin and put the game to end at last. At that point, more than six hours of real time elapsed since the first puck drop the previous evening. There were few spectators left in the arena. In the halls, vending machines ran out of stock. Some kids and even their parents fell asleep.
Jokerit survived its visit to Moscow and takes the action back to Helsinki with Game 6 this Saturday. CSKA Moscow still lead the series 3-2 and will have another chance to eliminate Jokerit, who will try to tie this Western Conference Semi-Final.
Nashville Can Wait
On the other hand, the win of Jokerit was unfortunate for Nashville Predators fans. They almost lost patience waiting for the arrival of Tolvanen. Only Jokerit’s exit from the KHL playoffs will allow him to join the Predators for their playoff run. According to reports, the move to Nashville has already been agreed.
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