SHL - Weekly Recap: Playoffs
Coming into the week Luleå was hoping to sweep their play in series against the higher seeded Oskarshamn and Rögle was looking to avoid being swept by the higher seeded Leksand.
Luleå was unable to complete the sweep as Oskarshamn put together a great performance at home on Monday evening, coming away with a 4-3 win in overtime and forcing a decisive game three. It was a similar game on Tuesday evening in Oskarshamn as the contest would once again go to overtime. Unfortunately for Oskarshamn, it would be Luleå coming away with the victory in this one and punching their ticket to the quarterfinal round, where they would face off against the regular season champs, Växjö.
Rögle also performed similarly well against Leksand. Looking down the barrel of a 1-0 deficit meant it was win or go home for Rögle. They took that motivation and turned it into not only one win on the road against Leksand, but they put together two great victories at Tegera arena, turning the tables on Leksand and coming away with the 2-1 series victory. Being the higher seeded team moving on to the quarterfinals, they would be facing off against Skellefteå in the next round.
Despite playing three games in just four days, Luleå and Rögle had just one days rest before they faced off against the top two teams in the regular season on Thursday evening.
The Växjö Lakers lived up to their reputation in game 1 as they put together a dominant performance on the ice. The Lakers absolutely controlled the game right from the whistle and never really gave Luleå any kind of chance to generate offence. They outshot the visitors 30-9. Despite the extremely lopsided shot clock, the Lakers came away with just two goals, but did manage to shutout Luleå. The lone bright spot for Luleå was the play of Joel Lassinanti between the pipes, turning away 28 of the 30 shots he faced, but he received no support on the other end of the ice from his offence. The victory also marked the 17th win in a row at home in regulation for Växjö.
Game two of the series shifted back to Luleå and Joel Lassinanti, once gain, showed up in a big way. Despite heavily outshooting Luleå in game one, Växjö struggled to generate the same kind of offence in game two. With just 13 shots on net throughout the whole game, they were unable to ripple the mesh. Lassinanti turned aside all shots he faced and came away with his 46th career shutout, making him the SHL all time leader in that category. Similarly, Luleå struggled to generate shots once again, however they did improve on their game one total, with 16 shots in game two. Luckily for Luleå they were able to sneak one past Emil Larmi as Joonas Rasks second period marker would be all they needed to tie up the series at one game a piece.
Rögle, surging with momentum from their come from behind series win against Leksand continued their success in game one against Skellefteå. Despite being the much lower seed and playing on the road, they managed to come away with a hard fought 3-2 victory. Christoffer Rifalk had a big impact in the game as he turned aside 35 of 37 shots faced, as Skellefteå peppered him all game long.
Despite three straight road wins for Rögle, they couldn't continue that success on home ice. It was a hard fought battle on the ice in game two that saw no goals scored in the first 50 minutes of the game. Christoffer Rifalk was once again a standout for Rögle as he turned aside 28 shots. Unfortunately for him a pair of goals in the second half of the third period would prove to be the difference as Skellefteå came away with the 2-0 victory, tying the series at 1.
The other two quarterfinals finally got underway on Friday as Färjestad faced off against Frölunda and Örebro came out swinging against Timrå.
Örebro was dominant in their opening game in front of the hometown crowd. They scored in all three periods, including a two goal first period and never looked back. A single goal from Timrå in the second was all they could muster as they fell 4-1 and Örebro took the 1-0 series lead.
It was a much tighter game in Karlstad as Färjestad also gave the home town fans something to cheer about. They too scored in all three periods and their third period goal turned out to make the difference. Frölunda kept pace with them on the scoreboard through the first two frames, but were unable to muster a game tying goal in the final period. Färjestad came away with the 3-2 victory to go up 1-0 in the series.
Örebro then became the first team in the post season to go up two games to none as they handed Timrå a 4-3 loss at home on Sunday afternoon. Despite scoring in all three periods, Timrå could not hold back Örebro's offence as they scored a pair of goals in both the second and third periods. Örebro's final two goals came after giving up the lead in the early stages of the third, but they were able to battle back and complete the comeback.
Game two on Sunday afternoon shifted back to Gothenburg and Frölunda did not disappoint their home fans. It was Färjestad who struck first in the opening frame, but a pair of goals in the second and a game winner in the third, after Färjestad tied it up, gave Frölunda the 3-2 victory to even up the series. Loui Eriksson scored the final two goals for Frölunda. They also heavily outshot Färjestad 45-23.
In the relegation series The Malmö Redhawks have taken a stranglehold on the series after a trio of great performances from them. They won game 1 and 2 by a score of 5-2 and game 3 on Saturday resulted in a 4-3 win. They are now just one win away from punching their SHL ticket for next season and Brynäs is looking at relegation. The next game of the series, as Malmö will look to wrap things up, is on Tuesday evening in Malmö.