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Rocket vs. Penguins Recap: Defensive woes cost Laval in overtime loss

They scored a bunch again, but couldn’t limit the damage against.

Club de hockey Canadien, Inc.

Coming off a weekend where they split a pair of games against the Binghamton Devils, the Laval Rocket hit the road for a three game set starting in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Penguins are typically among the best in the AHL, backstopped by a tandem of Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry. It was Jarry in net against Charlie Lindgren, who would look to rebound after a disappointing weekend against the Devils.

What broke out in the first period looked like a replay of last week’s 8-7 goal bonanza, with the teams combining for six first-period goals. Daniel Sprong kickstarted the game with an absolute laser of a shot that beat Lindgren. Sprong collected the puck off the faceoff, used a Rocket defender as a screen and wired his fifth goal of the year home to put the Penguins up 1-0.

That lead would not last for long, with Chris Terry knotting the game up with his fourth goal of the year. He took a pass from Michael McCarron, kicked it to himself, then sniped the puck past Jarry to tie the game up.

Four minutes later it was a combination of the Rocket fourth line and Tom Parisi who put Laval in front. A scramble in the corner forced the puck behind the net, where Kyle Baun dished it to Parisi at the point. The former Providence Friar found an open lane and buried the shot past Jarry to give the Rocket a 2-1 lead.

The Rocket’s lack of discipline cost them shortly after. With Parisi sitting for tripping, the Penguins power play went right to work. Sprong once again collected loose puck after a faceoff, and while uncontested ripped a shot past Lindgren to knot the game up.

It would be David Broll and the fourth line once again coming up big late in the period however, with the gritty forward scoring his first of the year. The elder statesmen of the Rocket got in behind the defence, and took a slap shot that beat Jarry clean, and gave Laval the lead.

The Rocket were again unable to hold onto their lead. Tom Kostopolous cleaned up a rebound in front with less than a minute on the clock, and sent the teams to the intermission tied 3-3.

The second period featured many of the same elements as the first, mainly involving the Rocket struggling to keep a lead for a length of time. The power play would strike gold for Laval around five minutes in with Eric Gelinas unloading his cannon of a shot to give his side the lead.

It took 14 seconds for that lead to evaporate unfortunately, with Kevin Czuczman firing a shot on net, and Gage Quinney sneaking the rebound past Lindgren and once again tying the game.

Then something strange happened: the teams didn’t score again for nearly 13 minutes, and the defences stepped up. Then it was the red-hot Nikita Scherbak who helped put the Rocket back in the lead. Scherbak broke in through the neutral zone, dangled around Lukas Bengtsson, and set up Michael McCarron who snapped the puck past Jarry to finish a gorgeous play.

Despite a strong defensive showing to end the second period, and for most of the third, a lack of discipline undid the hard work of the offence. Lindgren and the defence held the pressure from Sprong and the Penguins at bay, until the penalties began piling up. With back-to-back penalties just past the midway point of the period, Daniel Sprong completed his hat trick, this time throwing a change-up at Lindgren and beating him through the five hole.

Daniel Carr had a great chance to put the Rocket back in front after he picked the puck off of Frank Corrado. Carr then broke in and was stopped by Jarry, who fended off an ensuing onslaught and kept the game tied. That’s how regulation would end as well, with a 5-5 and a trip to overtime in Pennsylvania.

Luck, unfortunately was not on Laval’s side in this game, as some brilliant goaltending by Jarry denied Chris Terry of the OT winner. At the other end Teddy Blueger fired a shot that was blocked, but he picked up the loose puck and slid it five hole on Lindgren for the game-winner.

Laval now falls to 3-1-1 on the year, and will face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday night before heading to Providence on Sunday.

Three Stars

1. Daniel Sprong (3G, 1A)

2. Teddy Blueger (1G)

3. Michael McCarron (1G, 1A)