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Laval Rocket recap: Dominant effort goes for naught vs. Devils

Jake Evans scores his first professional goal, Rocket outshoot opponent 41-15 but fall 2-1.

Club de hockey Canadiens, Inc

The Laval Rocket played three dominant periods, killed off two penalties, and only allowed two goals but fell to the Binghamton Devils 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Place Bell.

The Rocket outshot the Devils 41-15 and 24-5 in the final 40 minutes, but could not find a way to beat Mackenzie Blackwood more than once, splitting the weekend series.

“It’s frustrating,” Rocket head coach Joël Bouchard said. “The effort was there. We played really well, we made one mistake in the third period and it cost us a goal. We gave up three shots in the third, two shots in the second, I have to give credit to the players for their effort, they did what we wanted to do.”

Laval’s lone goal was scored by Jake Evans. The AHL rookie took the puck and used a tremendous individual effort to beat Blackwood to tie the game at 1-1 with 3:46 left in the second period.

“[It’s] a little bit of a relief to get that out of the way,” Evans said. “I wish we had a better end result to be happier about it. Hopefully [there’s] more to come.”

The goal came on the same ice where he suffered a scary injury during the Montreal Canadiens rookie tournament which forced him out of the entire NHL pre-season.

“I’m happy for him,” Bouchard said. “I push him a lot and we know he had a serious injury here at rookie camp and I was happy for him.”

Evans’s goal came near an end of a second period that the Rocket dominated and desperately trying to tie the game.

“It was a goal we deserved,” Bouchard said. “It was a second period where we had plenty of chances and for him to get us one was a good feeling to go into the third period and we started with plenty of chances in the third.”

Binghamton took the lead of the game 12:21 into the first period when Marian Studenic put home a rebound from a Yegor Yakovlev shot after Kevin Rooney won the faceoff.

They ended up taking the lead in a third period where they got their first shot with 7:41 left in the frame. Just about 30 seconds later, Nick Lappin got behind coverage and a perfect feed from Michael Kapla found him and left Michael McNiven no chance.

“I tried to be there for my team when they needed me,” McNiven said. “Obviously I would like those two goals back. One of them was a lucky bounce, and the other was a perfect pass backdoor, but that’s the way it goes some nights.”

McNiven was making his first start of the season after Charlie Lindgren was recalled earlier in the day by the Montreal Canadiens. It wasn’t the easiest game for a goaltender, and he went over 33 minutes facing only two shots on goal.

“I was just trying to stay warm, doing little drills in my crease trying to stay focused and stay in the game,” he said. “It’s a little tough but it’s pro hockey. You always have to be ready whether you have five shots the whole game or 50 shots.”

Offensively, the Rocket had plenty of opportunities, and just couldn’t find a way to beat Blackwood, who made 40 saves in a huge game for him earning his team two points in a game they were dominated for most of the night.

“From time to time it happens,” Bouchard said. “It won’t happen often but I’m sure at one point we’re going to win a game that we didn’t deserve to win and I’ll remind you of this game against Binghamton. The players are disappointed. We’re disappointed, but we learn from every win, we learn from every loss.”

Laval had five power play opportunities but couldn’t convert on any of them. Through four games, they have just one goal in 16 power play opportunities.

“If you look at the power plays, sure it would have made a difference but I don’t find we were terrible either,” Bouchard said. “You look at the 41 shots, there were a lot of them that were on the power play with a player in front of the net. One timers just missed the net. If we looked at attempted shots it was probably even a better statistic. Am I happy we went 0/5? No. Were we horrible? No. Would it have been nice to get one? Yes.”

“I don’t think we played on the perimeter too much,” said Alexandre Grenier, who had three shots on goal and was a +1. “I think we still brought a lot of pucks to the slot but the rebounds just didn’t fall in the right place. There were at least 10 times we tried to bat the puck in the net and it just happened to hit his pad and we just couldn’t capitalize.”

“I think one thing we’ve been working on, especially this week, is just getting in front of the goalie and taking away his eyes,” Evans said. “I think that was a big thing. You get that many shots, some of them are a little too easy for him so we’ll keep working on it and making it more difficult for the goalie.”

Bouchard wasn’t happy with the result, but said that that there are things to remind players - especially young ones.

“A player could play well and make one or two mistakes and the guys are frustrated and say to themselves ‘Damn, I made one or two mistakes’ but in reality you did 25 things well. That’s the reality of hockey. [...] As a coach you don’t go into the dressing room after a game like that and make them feel bad about themselves. You tell them there’s learning and every little play counts.”

The Rocket now head into a three-game week with a Wednesday home game against the Hartford Wolf Pack before a Friday and Saturday home series against the Springfield Thunderbirds.