With both semi final series still underway at the start of last week our finalists were yet to be decided. Luleå had a hill to climb and Färjestad was looking to keep their offence rolling.
Although Luleå finished 2nd in the regular season and easily defeated Växjö in the quarterfinal round, they found themselves down 3 games to 1 coming in to Monday nights game 5 against Frölunda. Having been outscored 6-3 in the previous 3 games, including two shutout losses, Luleå needed to get their offence rolling. Their biggest obstacle in the series had been Johan Mattsson between the pipes for the Indians, and he showed no indication of slowing down. Unfortunately for Luleå, Mattsson wasn't the only problem they would have in game 5, as Frölundas offense came alive and potted 2 goals in each period. Luleå was able to score a pair in the 3rd, but the Indians proved to much for them, coming away with the 6-2 victory and punching their ticket to the SHL finals. It's the Indians 2nd finals appearance in just four seasons, having won it back in 2016.
That meant there was only 1 series left to decide and Färjestad was determined to force a game number 7 back in Karlstad. Tuesdays game was the follow up to the massive 8-2 blowout win for Färjestad on Sunday, a game in which they managed to score 4 goals against both Djurgården goalies. Adam Reideborn was set to reprise his role between the pipes on Tuesday night. However, a phone call from his wife just before puck drop would send him to the hospital to be there for the birth of his child, so Robin Jensen would get the start. Unfortunately for Djurgården, the result would be a bit to similar to Sundays game. Färjestad would score 4 goals in under 6 minutes in the last half of the 2nd period, including a penalty shot do over, after a bottle thrown from the crowd interfered with the first attempt. Djurgårdens attempt at a comeback in the 3rd was short lived and Färjestad came away with the 6-1 victory to send it home for game 7.
Game of the Week
Our game of the week on the English world feed was game number 7 between Färjestad and Djurgården. Having defeated Djurgården by a combined score of 14-3 in the previous two games and forcing a game 7 after being down 3 games to 1, all the momentum was on Färjestads side and all the pressure to win was on Djurgården. In their two big wins, both games had a common them, Färjestad scored first and early. In game 5 Johan Ryno scored with just 2:34 elapsed in the game, game 6 saw Marcus Nilsson score with just 1:32 elapsed and the trend would continue in game 7.
With just 1:18 elapsed in the frame Sebastian Erixon would let a shot go from the point and a perfect redirect off the stick of Michael Lindqvist found the back of the net past Adam Reideborn to put the home team up by 1. Färjestad wouldn't get many more chances in the frame as they managed just 4 more shots on target before the end of 20 minutes. Djurgården, however, would get some quality opportunities, but none of the 9 shots they put on net would get past Markus Svensson and so the game would head to the 2nd 1-0.
The 2nd would prove to be more evenly matched in the shot department and both goalies were looking strong in their respective nets. However, Djurgården was awarded a powerplay and would not waste their opportunity. After getting set up in the zone, the puck found its way to Sebastian Strandberg who showed great patience waiting for a shooting lane to open up. Once it did, he ripped a wrist shot from the circle far side against Svensson to tie the game a 1. With the goal, Strandberg scored his post season leading 7th tally in just 13 games played. Neither team would be able to break the deadlock in the 2nd and so the game would head to the final period of regulation all tied up.
The third period brought out a fast and furious pace for both teams as they were desperate to break the deadlock. It wouldn't take long to find the tie breaker, just 2:42 in to the frame Dick Axelsson fired home the go ahead goal. Färjestad would respond with a flurry of shots and opportunities, but Adam Reideborn put forth one of his best periods of the season. He made a number of highlight reel saves that would have certainly beat a lesser goalie, but he refused to give up the lead. All in all Färjestad outshot Djurgården 12 to 6 in the frame. Despite their efforts, Djurgården put the nail in the coffin with less then 5 to play. A perfectly executed 2 on 1 was finished off by Strandberg who one timed the cross ice pass from Axelsson and found the back of the net. An empty netter from Axel Jonsson-Fjallby would seal the deal and Djurgården punched their ticket to the SHL finals. It's Djurgårdens firt appearance since 2010 and they'll be looking for their first title since 2001.