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Rocket @ Monsters recap & highlights: Late power-play goal sinks Laval in Cleveland

A strong third-period effort wasn’t enough for the weekend sweep in Ohio.

Club de Hockey Canadien Inc.

On a three-game winning streak, the Laval Rocket returned to Quicken Loans Arena in search of another win against the Cleveland Monsters. In the previous game, the Rocket jumped out to an early lead despite a heavy shot disparity, and by the time the third period rolled around they had taken full control and cruised to a 5-1 victory.

For the Rocket their biggest change for the night came due to injury, with Nikita Scherbak listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. After back-to-back wins during the week, Charlie Lindgren was between the pipes once again. For the Monsters, they were without Zac Dalpe, and Jean-Francois Berube was their starter on the night.

Despite both teams missing some of their star players, the scoreboard was lit up early in this contest. Eric Robinson got the Monsters on the board first, at the expense of Ryan Sproul. Robinson cut to the net and beat Charlie Lindgren for the game’s opening tally.

The Rocket didn’t let that deficit stand for long, with the suddenly hot Alexandre Alain doing the damage for his side. Taking a pass from Michael McCarron, Alain drove to the net, and coolly lifted a backhand shot past Berube for his third goal of the year to tie the game.

After Vitaly Abramov took a bizarre delay of game penalty by throwing the puck out of the zone, the Rocket had a chance to claim an early lead, but Sproul’s rough first period continued as he tripped a Cleveland player up, negating the man advantage. Even with back-to-back power plays the Monsters couldn’t generate any shots on goal, let alone a dangerous scoring chance, as the Rocket penalty kill stifled any chances they had.

A late flurry around the Monsters’ net nearly led to another Rocket goal, but some timely saves by Berube sent the teams to the intermission tied at one.

Even with a strong end to the first period, the Rocket stumbled coming out of the gate in the middle frame, giving up a near goal to Alex Broadhurst shortly into the period. Lindgren sprawled across his net to take away the chance, but he faced plenty more pucks before the end of the frame.

After Justin Scott leveled Lukas Vejdemo illegally, the Rocket looked to be headed to a power play midway through the period. Alexandre Grenier, however, took exception to the hit, and ambushed Scott after the whistle, taking a two-minute minor for instigating and a five for fighting, fully negating the potential power play. In addition to the seven penalty minutes, Grenier was also given a 10-minute misconduct for his role in starting the fracas.

The man advantage could have served to stem the tide a bit, as Cleveland continued to pile up the shots, eventually outshooting Laval 14-4 in the period.

With a little under two minutes left to play, Mark Letestu let a shot go, and Lindgren had a problem controlling the rebound. Calvin Thurkauf jumped on the puck, crashing the net and giving his side the lead late in the period, and that would be the difference as the horn sounded to end it.

Much like the first period, the goals flew fast and early in the final 20 minutes, with the Rocket striking first this time. Vejdemo fed the puck to Byron Froese, who in turn carried the puck below the Monsters’ goal line. From there he let a shot rip over the shoulder, and off of Berube to tie the game 64 seconds in.

It was a short-lived lead for the Rocket, as Alain was called for hooking, and on the ensuing Monsters power play, Broadhurst deposited another rebound in the net for a 3-2 Cleveland lead.

Another scramble around the Monsters’ net saw Berube lose his stick into the corner, and with the puck eventually coming back into the zone on a dump in, Berube opted to just cover the puck. He covered it outside the trapezoid, however, sending Laval to a power play with less than eight minutes gone. Old woes plagued the Rocket during the crucial man advantage, and outside of a few shots, they failed to threaten the Cleveland netminder with any real chances.

Laval piled the shots on Berube over and over as the clock ticked down in the period, but the goalie did not budge despite his early hiccups. With Lindgren out of the net, the Rocket threw everything they could at the net, but a turnover by Alex Belzile led to an Eric Robinson empty-net goal, and the nail in the coffin.

The Rocket saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, but in more concerning news, the injuries are starting to pile up. Scherbak missed this game, and Nikita Jevpalovs left with a lower-body injury after a knee-on-knee collision. Hunter Shinkaruk also limped to the bench late in the third period after taking a big hit from Justin Wade.

The Rocket now head back to the friendly confines of Place Bell, where they’ll meet the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday night for their second matchup of the year.

Three Stars

1. Eric Robinson (2 Goals)

2. Alex Broadhurst (1 Goal)

3. Mark Letestu (2 Assists)