Kärpät – Blues 3-2 (0-1, 2-0, 1-1)
The seventh meeting between these teams this season and the seventh time the result has been decided by a single goal. The home side levelled this best of, errr, 7 semi-final series a game apiece by doing better than their opponents what matters most: finishing. The quality of Blues’ play was often superior to that of Kärpät’s — slicker passing, better movement off the puck — most noticeably in the first period, and led to more clearer cut chances, but poor finishing, and sometimes even no finishing, mean that they’re heading back to the confines of kehä III having lost a game they could’ve won. Not that I’m complaining.
All five goals came with the man advantage. On 7:22 Josef Boumedienne collected the first of his evening’s penalties, which lasted for precisely 15 seconds when Ben Eaves fed Toni Kähkönen to lash home from mid-range. This was no less than the visitors deserved at this point, and should’ve served as a spur to Kärpät to higher efforts, but didn’t. What did kick us into life was the dismissal of Atte Ohtamaa on the 10 minute mark for scything down Ben Eaves with his leg. The outright injustice of the decision, fuelled by the appropriate crowd reaction, led to the next few minutes being forget-the-puck-where’s-the-player ice hockey. No further goals, however, left the visitors a goal to the good at the first interval.
The game swung in Kärpät’s direction in the second period. Blues picked up 10 minutes in penalties, the first of which ended early when Kristian Kuusela hammered the puck through and past a hopelessly unsighted Mikko Koskinen into the net after 21:25. The last of the penalties also ended early, at 34:15 when Josef Boumedienne had the wit to fire the puck in from the blue line deliberately wide for the unmarked Toni Koivisto to guide into the net. The home lead evaporated in the final period when Ben Eaves shot fiercely into a crowded goalmouth. The loose puck landed on Petri Lammassaari’s blade, which promptly swept it past the stranded Tuomas Tarkki for the 2-2 equaliser. Two minutes later a similar scene was re-enacted at the other end of the rink. A Boumedienne shot and a goalmouth game of pinball came to an end when Vesa Viitakoski got enough wood behind his shot to score the decider. A tight game that could have gone either way. The third match is in Espoo on Monday.