Frölunda set up a furious tempo, but it was evident that the referees had gone back from the playoff hockey rulebook to the regular season rulebook, which is something I applaud.
Frölunda was slow to adapt to the switch, as evidenced by the early penalties taken by Andreas Johnson and Artturi Lehkonen. Fortunately their penalty kill was on point, and Skellefteå had no scoring chances during the power plays.
Shortly thereafter, Lehkonen gained the zone and set up Ryan Lasch with a fantastic chance, but Skellefteå's goaltender, Erik Hanses, made a great pad save.
On the ensuing faceoff Frölunda performed a set play, and Joey Crabb deflected the shot from the slot to give Lehkonen's team a 1-0 lead.
The strict refereeing continued to wreak havoc on the game. In the midst of a Frölunda power play, Crabb got called for a slashing, and while the clock had counted down the four-on-four play, Joel Lundqvist threw a puck on the net that fooled Hanses, giving Frölunda a 2-0 lead.
In the second period the penalties continued to flow. Skellefteå's seventh power play of the game yielded a result, as Janne Pesonen scored to draw his team within one.
The third period was some of the highest tempo hockey I have seen a Swedish team play. Lehkonen's Frölunda was on the receiving end of a force that came in wave upon wave. According to Skellefteå fans in the arena, it never really felt close, however it was a mad dash for a goal by the home team.
With three minutes to go, and in the midst of a Skellefteå push, Skellefte's captain Jimmie Eriksson took a bad penalty in offensive zone. When he argued against it the referee replied: "We gave a similar one in the first period, you know we have to take this!". During the penalty kill a Skellefteå defender tried to lob the puck out of the zone, but failed miserably.
In one motion Artturi Lehkonen plucked the puck out of the air, got it to his blade, and finished the game off with a 3-1 victory to the visiting team.
The Man of the Match was undoubtedly Jonas Gustavsson, Frölunda's keeper.
He had two great passes today, and the second one in particular should have ended with a goal.
He had another chance when the puck bounced out from the boards and he tried to score between the legs, but he hit the side of the net. Despite not scoring, it was a move that clearly showed the confidence he has, and his fast thinking. On that note, he has been moved to the first power play unit, in a position where the team can utilize his blistering shot.
His ability to knock the puck out of midair, and quickly capitalize on the defender's error was quite impressive. This young player has a fantastic skill set, and I don't think that Montreal can afford to keep him out of the lineup next season.
He leads all SHL players with nine goals and six assists through 14 games.