After 10 days off for the international break, SHL action returned this week as the race for the playoffs heats up.
Team of the Week
Coming into the week there were just 13 games remaining in the regular season for most teams. After a 10 day break in the schedule, all teams were back in action this week with their sights set on the playoffs.
Skellefteås first game of the week came on Friday as they faced off against Färjestad for the fourth and final time this season. Coming into the contest the season series was in Skellefteås favour as they had won two of the three previous matchups and were looking to close out the series with their third straight win.
Despite Färjestads red hot offence, which came into the game with a league leading 3.39 goals per game average, Skellefteå was able to completely shut down their scoring. A pair of goals in the first for Skellefteå gave them a bit of breathing room heading into the second. Although they were unable to score in the second frame they managed to hold Färjestad to just four shots on net. The third was much of the same as neither team was able to beat the goaltenders. Skellefteå finally selaed the deal late in the frame with an empty net goal and came away with the 3-0 shutout victory. Gustaf Lindvall turned aside all 24 shots he faced, including 11 in the final frame, and handed Färjestad just their third shutout loss of the season.
Skellefteå had no time o rest after their Friday night win as they were back at it Saturday evening with another road game against Örebro. This one was a very important game in terms of the standings as Skellefteå sat just three points back of Örebro who were sitting on the bubble in 6th.
Skellefteå came out gunning in the first and managed 13 shots on net and were able to hold Örebro to just 4. Unfortunately for Skellefteå the only goal of the period came from Örebro as they were able to weather the onslaught of shots and carry the 1-0 lead into the second frame. Skellefteå was able to tie the game in the second as Örebro continued to struggle to get shots on net.
Things didn't improve for Örebro in the final frame as Skellefteås offense came alive with a trio of goals in the 3rd and gave up just one to Örebro. With the surge of offense Skellefteå completed the come from behind victory and grabbed a very important three points. Those points were enough to tie them with Örebro at 69 points on the season and, with a better goal differential, moves them into 6th overall with just 11 games remaining in the regular season.
Skellefteå will look to push their win streak to five as they face off against Djurgården on Tuesday night.
Game of the Week
Our game of the week this week came all the way back on Tuesday night as Djurgården played host to Färjestad. Coming into the game Djurgården had put together an impressive run of 7 straight wins and 10 straight home victories and were looking to continue their streak.
Things did not get off to a great start for Djurgården as an early shot from Lukas Ekståhl-Jonsson was kicked aside by Karri Rämö and the rebound was buried by Martin Johansson to give Färjestad the 1-0 lead with less than two minutes elapsed in the frame. Färjestad would follow that up with a beautiful passing play that would be finished off by Jonathan Blum to put them up by a pair. Despite being outshot in the frame, Färjestad would carry the 2-0 lead into the second period.
It wouldn't take long for Djurgården to answer back in the second frame as a fast break into the offensive zone created a great opportunity. Patrik Berglunds long wrister was kicked aside by Arvid Holm and the rebround was collected by Manuel Ågren and sent home just 17 seconds into the frame. The rest of the period would see both teams amass a number of quality opportunities and both goaltenders were busy. Djurgården managed 13 shots on net in the frame but it was Färjestad who rippled the mesh next. Awarded a late period penalty, Färjestad took advantage as Daniel Vikstens sharp angle shot ricocheted off Rämmö and in to the net to regain the two goal lead, however it would be short lived. Exactly a minute later, the young Alexander Holtz moved in along the right hand side and roofed the puck short side against Arvid Holm to pull Djurgården back within one heading into the final frame.
Djurgården would start the third just as they started the second, with a quick goal. Just over a minute into the frame Linus Hultströms centering pass attempt from below the line bounced off Holms pad and in to tie the game a three. Not to be outdone, Färjestad would get a bit of lucky one themselves. Jonathan Blums centering pass attempt deflected off the skate of Marcus Högström and in to restore the lead. Djurgården would pull back to even again, however, on a powerplay marker from Linus Hultström for his second of the period. Neither team was able to break the deadlock for the remainder of regulation time and the game would head to overtime.
Despite Färjestad amassing four shots in overtime and Djurgården managing three, both goaltenders turned aside all attempts in the extra frame and forced the game into a shootout. The shootout was also a goaltenders duel as both teams managed just one goal in the first three shooters. It would require seven rounds of shooters to finally find a winner as Manuel Ågren played hero for Djurgården as his shootout goal completed the comeback and kept their winning streak alive.
Check out full game highlights here:
Luleå and Färjestad remain 1st and 2nd, but the biggest mover this week is Rögle. With a full nine points they jump from 7th all the way into 3rd. That knocks Frölunda and Djurgården down one spot each and Skellefteå rounds out the top six. Örebro now find themselves on the outside looking in in 7th place. HV71 drops two spots into 8th, Malmö sits 9th and Växjö remain in 10th. Not far behind, however, is Brynäs in 11th and Linköping in 12th. Oskarshamn and Leksand remain 13th and 14th respectively.
Check out this weeks top goals