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Rocket vs. Devils game recap: Charlie Lindgren steals a point for Laval

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A strong start faded quickly, as the Rocket were carried by their netminder on Wednesday night.

Club de Hockey Canadien Inc.

Coming off an emotional 4-3 overtime victory on Saturday in Allentown, the Laval Rocket looked to start up a winning streak of their own immediately after snapping a stretch of seven straight losses.

Getting the start in net was Charlie Lindgren, who is still trying to find his feet in the AHL this year, even after a great run in the NHL with Montreal. Opposite him would be former Team Canada goalie MacKenzie Blackwood for the Binghamton Devils.

It didn’t take the Rocket long to find the back of the net, bringing the home fans to their feet just under five minutes in.

After Blackwood was dinged for playing the puck in a restricted area, the Rocket’s vaunted power play went to work generating pressure on the Devils. It was just after the power play expired that the Rocket found their goal. Kyle Baun fired a shot in on net and a rebound popped in the air to Jeremy Grégoire. The suddenly red-hot forward showed off some great hand-eye coordination, swatting the puck out of the air and into the net for his fifth goal of the year.

Another man advantage followed shortly after the goal for Laval, but they were unable to cash for a second time. From there, the Devils fought back and mounted a formidable pushback to end the period.

Back-to-back penalties from Jordan Boucher and Noah Juulsen put Lindgren and the penalty-killing unit to the test to finish period. The netminder was not only sharp, but got a bit of luck as the Devils booted a few open-net chances wide of the net, leaving the Rocket’s 1-0 lead intact after 20 minutes.

While the Rocket opened the game strong, the Devils took over from the middle of the opening frame. The second period saw Lindgren under siege as the Rocket conceded multiple power plays, and spent minimal time in the Binghamton end.

To his credit, Lindgren remained up to the task, and less than two minutes in would be called upon to make a highlight-worthy save. The Devils broke in on an odd-man rush, and some nifty passing led to Bracken Kearns having a wide-open net to finish the play off. However, Lindgren sprawled across and made the pad save to keep Laval in the lead.

Binghamton finally broke through at the 7:30 mark of the period, with Kearns finally solving Lindgren to tie the game. John Quennville snagged a puck, and then with a nice move fired a no-look pass across the zone to Kearns. Lindgren had little time to react before the Devils forward buried the puck in the net for the tying goal.

The Devils didn’t let up after tying the game either, and the Rocket’s indiscipline finally caught up to them. This time the short-handed situation came in the form of an ugly looking spear by Grégoire late in the period, on which he was fortunate to have only been sentenced for slashing. Spearing is an immediate ejection and five minute major in the AHL, something that could have significantly impacted the Rocket in this game.

To end the period, Chris Terry took a hooking penalty, forcing Laval to start the final period on the penalty kill. The Rocket penalty kill stood tall once again, and actually ended the night perfect on five opportunities.

Unlike the Devils. the Rocket were not able to transition successful penalty killing into momentum for their offence. Despite leading the final period in shots, the Rocket never truly threatened the Devils in the offensive zone. The only good scoring chance came on a goal that was swatted in with a high stick by Grégoire.

A holding penalty by Dylan Olsen gave the Rocket their best chance at another goal outside of the first period, but a stout penalty kill by Binghamton prevented all but one truly dangerous scoring chance.

Lindgren was called upon in the dwindling seconds as well to make some major saves on Devils scoring chances, and he stood up to the task, looking like the All-Star from last season. Noah Juulsen also deserves some praise, because in the final 10 seconds of the period, the rookie defender gave up his body to block a prime scoring chance and helped get the game into overtime.

The extra period saw Laval perform much better than in the previou 40 minutes, but ultimately the game featured a familiar ending.

Thirty seconds in, the Rocket sent Terry in on Blackwood, and the puck was put just wide of the net. Binghamton then took the loose puck to the opposite end, and Jacob MacDonald wired home his 10th goal of the year to secure the 2-1 overtime win.

Laval now faces a monumental task this upcoming Friday and Saturday when they square off against the Toronto Marlies. Toronto currently leads the North Division at 18-5-0-0, while Laval now slips into fourth at 10-9-4-2.

Three Stars

1. Charlie Lindgren (32 Saves)

2.John Quennville (2 Assists)

3. Adam Cracknell