With the quarterfinal round nearing its end, two teams have punched their ticket to the semi finals and four teams remain in tight battles for the final two spots.
Luleå and Frölunda grabbed the first two semi final births with 4-1 series wins over Växjö and Malmö respectively this past week. Luleå continued their dominance and came away with wins in the first 3 games of the round to take a strangle hold on the series. Despite their 3 to nothing series lead, the Lakers refused to give up. At home on Thursday night they were able to force the overtime frame and Dominik Bokk was able to keep their season alive with the game winner.
Although they were able to stay alive in game 4, history was not on their side. No SHL team has ever recovered from a 3-0 series defecit, in fact, it's a feat accomplished by only a small number of teams across all professional leagues. The record would remain intact this season as Luleå's dominance in Coop Norbotten Arena continued on Saturday night as they were able to win 4-1 and send the defending champs home early.
Luleås and Frölundas opponents still to be decided
The series between Frölunda and Malmö looked like it might be a toghter battle. Malmö was able to tie the series at 1 game a piece after their win at home in game 2. Unfortunately for the Redhawks, the Indians offence came alive and managed to outscore Malmö 16-6 in the final 3 games of the series, including a big 7-2 win in game number 3. Frölundas offense was lead by the play of Ryan Lasch, who managed to score 2 goals and add another 6 assists in the 5 games. Simon Hjalmarsson, Rhett Rakhshani and Patrik Carlsson have also added 7 points each in the series. Who Luleå and Frölunda will meet in the semi final rounds remains to be seen as Färjestad/HV71 and Djurgården/Skellefteå will require at least 6 games to determine a winner.
Djurgården had an opportunity to close out the series at home on Sunday afternoon, as they carried the 3-1 series lead in to the game. However, Skellefteå was able to go up 3-0 in the 3rd period and looked poised to win it. Djurgården managed to get 2 goals back in the frame, including a late goal with just over a minute to play, but Skellefteå would hold on for the victory and a chance to tie things at 3 games a piece on Tuesday night at home.
Perhaps suprisingly, the tightest series of the quarterfinals so far has been top seeded Färjestad against lowest seeded HV71. Coming in to the series a lot of people expected the regular season champs to come away with the series win, however, the team from Jönköping have been playing well and have managed to keep themselves alive when it looked like the game was over. They managed to tie game #1 with less than 50 seconds remaining in regulation and would go on to win it in overtime. The teams have traded wins back and forth and it looked like that trend might continue on Saturday afternoon.
Game of the Week
Our game of the week on the english world feed will go down in the history books. Game #5 as Färjestad played host to HV71.
Just like the whole series this game was tight all the way through and HV71 was hoping to keep the trend of away team winning alive. The opening goal came in the early stages of the 2nd period as Sebastian Wännström wired a shot top corner past Markus Svensson to give HV71 the 1-0 lead. Despite chances on both ends of the ice throughout the rest of the frame, the game would head to the 3rd period 1-0.
It wouldn't take long for Färjestad to tie things up in the 3rd. Michael Lindqvist was finally able to find the back of the net off a big rebound from the shot by Marcus Nilsson with just 39 seconds elapsed in the frame. They'd follow that up with a shorthanded goal just a few minutes later as Linus Johansson was sprung by Joakim Nygård and made a beautiful move that fooled Jonas Gunnarsson to put them up by 1. The rest of the frame was fast paced and end to end hockey with both teams generating chances. With the clock ticking down HV71 pulled Jonas Gunnarsson to get the 6th skater on the ice and just as they did in game 1, managed to stay alive in the final minute. Sebastian Wännström sent a shot from the high slot off the leg of Linus Johansson that fooled Svensson and tied the game with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
Overtime would be back and forth with chances on both ends. However, Färjestad was certainly the more dominant team in the frame as they manged 15 shots on target, one of which rippled the mesh. Färjestad was able to find the back of the net but a crease violation by Daniel Viksten would cause the goal to be called off. With a number of HV71 players already in the dressing room the game would continue after a brief pause. No one was able to break the deadlock and this game needed a second overtime period.
HV71 would generate more chances in the 2nd overtime frame and both goaltenders made some outstanding saves to keep the game alive. Despite two powerplay opportunities for Färjestad in the frame, neither would yield a goal as Jonas Gunnarsson kept HV71 in it and the time would expire on period number 5, sending it to triple overtime.
Färjestad came out hard in the 3rd overtime frame generating half a dozen shots on target in the first few minutes alone. One chance in particular looked like it would end it. Theodore Lennström walked off the end boards and pulled it around Gunnarsson, with almost the whole net open Gunnarsson sprawled with his glove arm to make the save along the ice and absolutely robbed Lennström of the game winner. As the frame ticked down, the game started surpassing markers for other long, record setting games in SHL history and looked like it might become the longest game the SHL had ever seen. However, with 2:59 remaining in the frame, Oskar Steen was able to intercept the pass off the boards in the HV71 zone, walk to the slot and rip home the game winner short side. Clocking in at 117 minutes and 1 second, this game became the 2nd longest game in SHL history. Färjestad now have the 3-2 series lead and have a chance to end it on Monday night in Jönköping.