After dropping a pair of games to their North Division rivals, the Utica Comets over the weekend, the Laval Rocket took to the road to face another divisional foe in the Belleville Senators.
The biggest news of the night was the addition of rookie Noah Juulsen to the lineup for the first time since he suited up in the playoffs last year for the St. John’s IceCaps. Starting in net was Charlie Lindgren for the Rocket, while opposite him was Andrew Hammond for the Sens.
The Rocket saw the advantage swing their way early on, owning a 5-1 shot lead in the opening few minutes of the game. Then, it was the Rocket’s indiscipline that caused the first period to flip on its head and put the Senators in the driver’s seat. Jordan Boucher was called for tripping up a Belleville player, and the Sens power play went to work testing Lindgren and the penalty killers.
It wouldn’t take long for the Senators to create some havoc against the AHL’s 29th-ranked penalty-kill unit. It looked like they were going to break through just past the halfway point of the opening period. The Senators’ leading scorer, Gabriel Gagne, received a pass and let a shot fly and it appeared to hit the post and bounce back between Lindgren’s pads. The official blew the play dead and then signaled that it was in fact a goal, despite it being clear the puck never came close to crossing the line.
I have absolutely no idea how this was initially ruled a goal pic.twitter.com/sbXwZX3mOb— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 30, 2017
After a moderately lengthy review the initial call was overturned, and changed to a no goal. Despite successfully killing the penalty off, the Senators took over the game from there, putting Laval back on their heels.
After finally getting some offensive zone time, the Rocket fell behind on the scoreboard. Eric Gelinas wound up to uncork his patented slapshot, and it ended up being blocked by Colin White. The rookie forward sped off in the other direction, leaving Gelinas in the dust and then beat Lindgren with a quick snap shot for a Senators lead.
Eric Gelinas has his shot blocked, Colin White takes it the other way and scores for the Sens pic.twitter.com/p4GSQ5B8lB— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 30, 2017
The opening 20 minutes came to a close with Belleville still leading 1-0, and the shots being close at 12-11 also in favour of the Sens.
In spite of a close contest on the shot clock, the flow of the game never really smoothed out until the latter part of the middle period. A power play for the Rocket failed to produce a tying goal despite several decent looks. Then, after Hammond robbed Peter Holland in close, it was Daniel Carr who finally broke the goose egg for the Rocket.
Holland won a draw and fed the puck over to Carr, who was left with a clear lane to the net. The Rocket’s leading scorer let a perfect shot rip and Hammond had no chance to stop it.
Holy woah, what a rip by Daniel Carr for his 12th goal of the year. pic.twitter.com/Gw2Jul8M1B— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 30, 2017
The joy from Carr’s goal would be short-lived for Laval however, as just over two minutes later, Eric Gelinas was busted for hooking. It took less than 35 seconds for the Senators to find the back of the net on the ensuing power play. Maxime Lajoie sent the puck over to Jim O’Brien at the top of the faceoff circle. Then with Brett Lernout providing a perfect screen, O’Brien wired a slapshot passed Lindgren to restore a Belleville lead.
The teams headed to the intermission with Laval taking over the shot counter, tallying 12 in the second period to the Senators’ five.
An early Thomas Parisi interference penalty put the Rocket back on the defensive almost immediately in the third, but after their issues the prior period, the penalty killing unit performed flawlessly. On the other side of things, the Laval power-play unit finally broke through, and like so many times before, Chris Terry was front and centre.
A quick cycle from Matt Taormina to Michael McCarron made its way to Terry on the half-boards. From there he walked in through the faceoff dot, and wired home a wrist shot, just nine seconds into the Laval power play.
Chris Terry's AHL leading 7th power play goal, and 10th overall ties the game for the Rocket. pic.twitter.com/rM6LxQTRBq— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 30, 2017
Another late power play failed to yield a goal for the Rocket, and a Noah Juulsen‘s flubbed pass nearly ended up in the net; if not for some solid goaltending from Lindgren. Just like in a number of other games this year, the Rocket headed to overtime, in spite of a solid advantage in shots once again.
The overtime period was nothing short of disastrous for Laval, who failed to even enter the Senators’ zone. Andreas Englund stood Daniel Carr up at the Belleville blue line, freeing up the puck to Jack Rodewald, and the forward took off for the Rocket zone.
Matt Taormina forced Rodewald to the outside and behind the net, yet the trailing forward, Daniel Audette, didn’t engage him at all. Rodewald took this advantage to slide in a wraparound on Lindgren and collect the second point for the Senators.
Sens get the overtime winner from Jack Rodewald, the Rocket didn't even get into the offensive zone. pic.twitter.com/kEkNEy6A04— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 30, 2017
As the teams left the ice, Lindgren was visibly frustrated, slamming his stick on the ice after a loss where he did the best he could to keep his team in it.
This marks the sixth straight loss for the Rocket; the second such losing streak in the career of Sylvain Lefebvre. By gaining one point tonight, however, the Rocket maintain their grip on third place in the North Division over the Senators.
Laval will be back in action on Friday and Saturday this week, as they head to Syracuse to face the Crunch on Friday, then trek into Pennsylvania for a showdown with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday night.
1. Jack Rodewald (1G)
2. Andrew Hammond (31 Saves)
3. Colin White (1G)