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Rocket vs. Senators recap & highlights: Road to playoffs gets steeper after 4-1 loss

Goaltending the difference as team falls farther back of final spot.

Club de hockey Canadien inc.

Charlie Lindgren picked a bad time to have one of his worst outings of the season as he didn’t even make it to the game’s halfway mark as the Laval Rocket fell to the Belleville Senators 4-1 on Friday night at Place Bell.

The Rocket actually outshot the Senators 37-23 but Lindgren allowed four goals on 10 shots while Danny Taylor made 36 saves for Belleville.

Belleville opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game. After a turnover in their own end, the loose puck ended up at the point where Maxime Lajoie found Gabriel Gagne whose shot deflected before beating Lindgren. It was the Senators’ first shot on goal.

Laval would continue to get chances on the Senators and actually controlled most of the play in the first period, getting two power plays but the absence of Chris Terry was noticeable. The AHL’s leading scorer in the 2017 calendar year plus one of the league’s leading scorer this season is out with a lower body injury and missed the game. Coach Sylvain Lefebvre said it would be “almost impossible” he’d play at all this weekend.

Daniel Audette would take Terry’s spot with Nikita Scherbak and Adam Cracknell, and while he didn’t look out of place, he wasn’t Terry.

Early in the second period, the Senators would make it 2-0 when Jordan Murray floated a puck on net that went straight through and beat Lindgren. It doesn’t look good, but you have to wonder how much he saw with a lot of traffic in front of him.

Right after the face off, literally, Nick Paul and Jeremy Gregoire would square off in a fight, and it wasn’t very clear why. The linesmen would step in almost immediately and on top of both getting the fighting penalty, they would get matching game misconducts as in the AHL planned fights off the face off are penalized.

Gregoire started the game with Michael McCarron and Yannick Veilleux and said that he knew the rule and it was his mistake to fight, but he is clearly frustrated with the losses piling up and the team’s inconsistency.

Whatever Gregoire looked to spark in his team, it didn’t work as Belleville made the score 3-0 just 55 seconds later. Former Canadiens forward Michael Blunden would score on the Senators eighth shot.

Gagne would add his second of the game just under six minutes later to make it 4-0 and it chased Lindgren from the game.

“We had good shots on net, even in the second period,” said Lefebvre after the game in a press release.

“But it’s hard when it’s 4-0 and you didn’t give up many scoring chances.”

Michael McNiven would make saves on all 13 shots he faced in relief as he was the backup with Zach Fucale with Brampton in the ECHL.

The Rocket would get one back early in the third period when a Matt Taormina shot went right to Cracknell who made no mistake to break Taylor’s shutout bid.

It was Cracknell’s 15th goal of the season, and 20th point in 20 games with the Rocket. Considering he has two goals and one assist in 15 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack, he is showing a surprising bit of skill that wasn’t necessarily expected when he was acquired for Patrick Holland.

Scherbak picked up an assist on the goal as well, and is on a four-game point streak. Since returning from injury, he has five goals and 12 assists in 15 games and has been held pointless just three times.

After the game, Lefebvre said that Lindgren would start in the second half of the home-and-home on Saturday saying that they want to give him a chance to bounce back.

To make matters worse for the Rocket, the Utica Comets lost in overtime so the gap grew to seven points between Laval and the final playoff spot. They are now tied for fifth spot with the Senators.