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Laval vs. Providence recap: Rocket struggle without their top stars

With Scherbak and McCarron recalled, the Rocket offence failed to launch on Sunday.

Club de hockey Canadien, Inc.

The Laval Rocket headed into their last game of their first road trip of the AHL season on a high note. They fell in a close contest on Friday night, despite scoring five goals in the losing effort. They responded with a 6-3 shellacking of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and moved to 4-1-1 on the year.

Both Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron were scratches for the game as they were called up by the Montreal Canadiens later in the day.

Charlie Lindgren got the start against the Providence Bruins and looked to get his season back on track, but unfortunately for him that would not be the case. The Rocket penalty kill struggled early on in the game, while the Bruins held the potent Laval power play goalless.

Jordan Szwarz got the scoring started by cashing in on a goal-mouth scramble with Peter Holland sitting for tripping. Austin Czarnik got the puck on net and caused a pileup in front of Lindgren, while Szwarz knocked in the loose puck, much to the chagrin of the Rocket netminder.

Less than three minutes later the Bruins would strike again, this time with Anton Blidh lighting the lamp for Providence. Tommy Cross slid a pass to Colby Cave, who picked out a wide open Blidh who had all day to beat Lindgren clean and double the Bruins lead.

Despite a close contest on the shot counter, the two teams went into the first intermission with the Bruins leading 2-0.

The second period was a scoreless affair, with each side leaning on their goalies to hold the fort. This was especially true for the Rocket whose penalty issues flared up once again, as they granted four power plays in the middle period.

Thankfully, Lindgren rebounded from his shaky start to turn away every shot from the Providence offence. Laval had plenty of their own chances of the period, primarily from Daniel Carr and Peter Holland, who after missing a game with an injury looked no worse for wear.

An early third-period power play netted nothing for the Rocket, who entered the final 20 minutes trailing by a pair of goals. They found themselves in an even deeper hole after Szwarz tallied his second goal of the game. Off the draw Danton Heinen took the puck behind the net, allowing Szwarz to drift right above the goal mouth. A perfect pass, and Szwarz rocketed one top shelf while completely uncovered by the Rocket defence, and put the Bruins up 3-0.

The vaunted Rocket power play finally broke through late in the game with Matt Grzelcyk sitting for cross-checking. It took all of eight seconds for Matt Taormina to find Chris Terry, who netted his fifth goal of the very young AHL season.

For those keeping track at home, the Rocket power play now ranks third in the entire AHL, clocking in at 27.8%.

This pushback was too little too late, however. Zane McIntyre shut the door for the remaining six-and-a-half minutes, and Blidh added an empty-net goal to seal the 4-1 victory for the Bruins.

With the loss the Rocket drop to 4-2-1 on the year, still holding steady at third in the North Division by points percentage (Binghamton has two games in hand).

It’s a quick turnaround for the Rocket as they head home to Place Bell for a Wednesday night showdown against the Rochester Americans, before travelling to Rochester for a rematch on Friday night. They end their three-game week with the first of many meetings with the Toronto Marlies in a 4:00 PM showdown in Toronto on Saturday.

Three Stars

1. Jordan Szwarz (2G)

2. Danton Heinen (2A)

3. Austin Czarnik (2A)