Two days after handing the Laval Rocket a lopsided loss at Place Bell, the Rochester Americans were on the schedule again, this time on Rochester’s home ice at the Blue Cross Arena.
Compared to Wednesday’s game, the Laval roster was drastically different, with Nicolas Deslauriers shifted to playing defence and Martin Réway out, who, along with the Canadiens, agreed to let him take some time off to determine his future with the organization. Minus their top stars, the Rocket were in need of a disciplined effort to collect a win against the Amerks on Friday night.
It was a touch-and-go start to the opening period for the Rocket, once again dealing with discipline issues; something they’ve struggled with for most of this season. With Antoine Waked serving a minor for hooking the Rocket penalty kill went to work, and turned away several good Amerks chances. As the penalty expired the newly released Waked took a pass at centre ice, broke in on net, but was stoned by Linus Ullmark.
Then Jakub Jerabek took his turn in the box, also for hooking as the speed of the Amerks attack caught the Rocket defenders on their heels more than once. Thankfully the penalty kill was up to the task once more without allowing any real high-danger chances against Charlie Lindgren.
Then the Laval offence got to work. A heavy forecheck by Daniel Carr and Kyle Baun led to Stefan Leblanc having an open lane to the net, and he was able to score the opening goal. Carr’s shot rebounded into the slot, and Leblanc had a clear lane right to the net, even with an Amerks defender getting a stick on the puck, it deflected past Ullmark and into the upper half of the net.
Stefan Leblanc gets a hell of a bounce of an Amerks stick for the opening goal pic.twitter.com/lEGfWWiXIm— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) October 27, 2017
Shortly thereafter Niki Petti corralled a loose puck, then let a heavy wrist shot fly. He beat Ullmark, but left nothing more than a dent in the goal post as the puck pinged away. After trailing in shots 8-1 at one point, the Rocket closed the gap to 12-10 by period’s end; not the worst situation considering two early penalty kills.
If the opening period was a back-and-forth affair, the second had the Rocket looking to land a knockout punch on the Americans. Laval came out like a house of fire, riding high on their late first period goal, while the Amerks looked to be back on their heels.
A good cycle by the Rocket allowed the second goal of the game to happen. Leblanc got a shot through on Ullmark who kicked a rebound out to Chris Terry. Terry spun and found a wide open Peter Holland, who slid home his third goal of the year.
Poor bounces and weak clearing efforts around the net cost Rochester dearly again on Laval’s third goal of the game. Kyle Baun got the puck to Byron Froese in close to the net. Froese had his initial shot blocked, but collected the rebound and coolly backhanded it by a sprawling Ullmark.
The Rocket nearly added a fourth late in the period with David Broll of all players making a great defensive play on a loose puck. Ullmark stopped his shot and kept the Rocket at bay for the remainder of the period, despite being heavily outshot.
It seemed that the Rocket would finish off the Amerks in short order following the second period. A plucky Rochester side would not go away, however, and finally took advantage of the lack of discipline by their opponent. Despite killing off an extended five-on-three early in the period, Sahir Gill capitalized immediately after Yannick Veilleux left the penalty box.
The Rocket had a massive collapse to end the game, sitting back and relying on Lindgren to bail them out. The goaltender was able to hang on until the final two minutes.
With the goalie pulled, Rochester took the offensive zone with ease, and forced Brett Lernout to take an ill-timed penalty. Nick Baptiste converted on the power play to get his team within one.
Then a great keep at the blue line by Brendan Guhle set up Baptiste for the game-tying goal with 22 seconds left on the clock and forcing overtime.
Even with the extra attacker in the three-on-three period, the Americans broke in short-handed, and Kyle Criscuolo crashed the net on a rebound and sent Laval out of Rochester with a stinging loss.
Head coach Sylvain Lefebvre noted in his post-game talk with EOTP that his team needs to tighten up and take fewer penalties. He noted that giving up that many man advantages allows any team to get back in the game. The coach also admitted that they sat back far too much in the third period, and that not testing Ullmark much forced them to play on their heels.
Lindgren stopped 44 of 48 shots in the loss, and outside of the utter collapse around him in the closing minutes, he was nearly flawless on the night.
The Rocket will now travel to Ricoh Coliseum to face the Toronto Marlies tomorrow at 4:00 PM for their first meeting of the year.
1. Nick Baptiste (2G)
2. Kyle Criscuolo (1G 1A)
3. Stefan Leblanc (1G 1A)