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Lions de Trois-Rivières get back in the series with a big home win

Anthony Nellis gets a hat trick, and the Lions stay disciplined.

Lions de Trois-Rivières

The Lions de Trois-Rivières got back into their first round series against the Newfoundland Growlers with a 3-2 win on Tuesday night in the first ever playoff game at the Colisée Videotron, narrowing the Growlers lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven.

Player Movement

  • Former Lions goaltender Arturs Silovs was recalled to the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL on Tuesday, becoming the second player to do so from the Lions this season. Silovs is still eligible to rejoin the Lions for the playoffs, but that seems unlikely for the time being until the Canucks finish their season.
  • Forward Olivier Archambault was suspended for one game for kicking Growlers defenceman Ben Finkelstein during the closing moments of the second period in game two.
  • Olivier Galipeau remains day-to-day, but Alexis D’Aoust was back in the lineup on Tuesday.

A game of chess

The first period was played carefully and without much to note. The Lions put the focus on frequent line changes and defensive responsibility, which would explain the 12-5 shot advantage for the Growlers, however none of those shots were truly high-danger. The Growlers did hit the corner post early when Marc Johnstone outwaited Philippe Desrosiers, who went down into butterfly. Going the other way, the best chance for the Lions came when Alexandre Fortin deked out a Growlers defender and broke in all alone, but made a cross-crease pass to Shawn St-Amant, who was being covered and wasn’t able to convert into an open net.

The second period started well for the Lions, who pressured and passed the puck well. A missed shot found its way over the net and was recovered by Finkelstein, who quickly passed it up the middle of the ice to Tyler Bolland, who broke out and scored his third of the playoffs blocker-side on Desrosiers 90 seconds into the period to put the Growlers up.

The Lions did not give up, playing much more alert and energetic than in the first, and a solid defensive block led the play up the ice as Justin Ducharme carried the puck, with Mathieu Gagnon skating as hard as he could to create a two-on-one, drawing defensive attention, while Ducharme shot on Petruzzelli. The rebound landed on the stick of the trailing Anthony Nellis, who flipped the puck into the net to tie the game.

It must be said that the Lions played a really good second period, and the Growlers were on their heels for the majority of it, even if they scored first.

The first penalty of the game went to the Growlers as Jeremy McKenna was caught high-sticking a Lions player behind the Growlers’ net. Newfoundland has been notorious in this series giving shots behind the play trying to draw the Lions into taking a retaliation penalty. It didn’t work out in this particular instance, and the Lions benefited.

Although the power play wasn’t great, the Lions did score as Nellis grabbed another rebound, this time off of a Brad Johnson shot, to give the Lions the lead in the 19th minute of the period.

The Growlers pressed in the third period, and tried all of their tricks to get the Lions off their game, but Desrosiers shut them down on every occasion. A tripping call to D’Aoust activated the league’s top power play, giving the Growlers their best chance of the period to tie it up, but some strong penalty-killing by Cedric Montminy, Peter Abbandonato, and Nellis killed it off. This was followed by offsetting roughing minors, giving the Growlers an opportunity to pull their goalie to play another five-on-four with three minutes left in the game.

Zach O’Brien shook off Josh Brook in the corner, circled around and snapped a perfect shot past Desrosiers to tie the game with two minutes left in the game, and it felt like it was headed to overtime. But a harmless shot from the point by Brook at the Growlers net ot deflected by Nellis for the unexpected winning goal with 23 seconds left to go in the third period.

The teams scrummed at the final whistle in Desrosiers’s crease, with Nellis getting into it with Finkelstein, and Desrosiers himself getting a few blocker shots to an intruder. This earned the goalie an inconsequential two-minute roughing minor to end the night.

The key to the Lions’ game was their discipline. The lack of it cost them a game in Newfoundland earlier in the series, and cost them numerous times during the season.

“I mentioned it yesterday, I mentioned it this morning, I mentioned it before the game,” said head coach Eric Bélanger. “When we let them get under our skin, we play into their hands. Tonight we didn’t to that, and their players who are used to disturbing didn’t have the impact that they wanted. We will want a copy and paste for Thursday.”